75 miles from Kent lies the 180 acre campus of Grove City College—the alma mater of four members of our studio and where two us (Nate + Ryan) have returned to as professors. A few months ago, we were excited to hear the news that the college had received a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment (a philanthropic foundation focused on community development, education and religion) to establish the Project on Rural Ministry (PRM). Not too long after, PRM’s team approached us to partner with them to bring the Project’s dynamic vision and mission to life. We enthusiastically agreed and got to work!
Over the next few years, the Project on Rural Ministry team will work to equip, empower, and encourage a cohort of pastors who minister to Agricultural, Appalachian, and Rust Belt regions surrounding Grove City College. PRM’s cooperative approach emphasizes the participation of college, church, and community, while its interdisciplinary focus on the areas of ministry, social work, and entrepreneurship recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities pastors encounter in rural settings.
Photos were gathered as part of an online ethnographic survey of barn quilts.
The Project on Rural Ministry team wanted a brand that was welcoming—a mirror that would reflect the rural experience, but also a window that could reveal what lies beyond. As research, discussion, and collaborative sessions began into how we communicate the brand, we kept coming back to a key verb: celebrate. We acknowledged the misconceptions about life in the Agricultural, Appalachian, and Rust Belt regions of PRM’s focus, and came back to what was true: that there’s a whole lot to celebrate.
We read about the region’s rich history, reflected on their commitment to community, and learned from the people who live there about all the good that’s happening right now. With these things in mind, we knew we wanted to create a brand that introduced a clear visual cue to the region and inspired a tone of respect for its characteristics.
We moved forward with the brand by reaching back to a distinctly rich emblem of rural America—barn quilts. These pieces of traditional folk art are typically designed on an 8x8 grid per the traditions of quilt-making, but differ from textile art in that they’re painted in vibrant colors on wooden panels and mounted in a place of prominence on homes and outbuildings.
The Project on Rural Ministry’s logo is inspired by the “Twelve-Point Star” quilt pattern, with different elements of its composition alluding to PRM’s origin, outcomes, tenets, focus areas, strategy, and motifs.
Barn quilts are typically designed on an 8x8 grid per the traditions of quilt-making. They stay true to tradition in their symbolism: we redesigned common barn quilt patterns as part of the PRM visual language to include variations like “Next Door Neighbor,” “Friendship Star,” “Log Cabin,” “Flying Geese,” and “Mill Wheel.”
The Project on Rural Ministry has a lot to communicate and many exciting plans for the future, and the brand is designed to establish, unify, and advance its mission, vision, and tenets as it continues. As PRM prepares for a strong launch and the first cohort of pastors is selected, we are excited to continue supporting the team and its exciting work in a region that is close to home (or rather, is home) for folks in our studio.