Professor, Visual Communication Design (1986). BFA, 1972, MFA, 1975, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Exhibitions: Klingspor Museum, Offenbach, Germany; Seoul University, Korea; University of the West of England, Bristol; Whitney Museum of Modern Art, NY; School of the Museum Fine Arts, Boston; American Center for Design, Chicago; Chicago Historical Society. Publications: The Designed World; Ideas in Design; Design Issues; Artist Book Yearbook; Communication Arts; Print magazine; AIGA Annuals. Collections: J. Paul Getty Museum Library, LA; Tate Gallery Library, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; ICOGRADA Archives, London; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, Washington, DC; AIGA Archives, NY. Awards: Grainger Foundation, Illinois Arts Council.
My artist-book work re-forms the "rules" of traditional literary compositions by using visual methods of series, montage, accrual, and pacing to create hybrid and non-traditional narrative structures. Images and textual fragments referring to a variety of archetypal arenas including science, image-criticism, and fairytales are pieced together by the viewer/reader to illuminate a fabulist world; they ultimately harken back to the world we create through the body politic.
These books—these fables—address the violent legacies of national policies and their impact on the individual body/self. History and memory are imaged not as our past but as the foundation and formation of our future. Both the narratives of our histories in the making and the limitations of narrative are called into question.
In my earlier works, I mined the public arena for much of the collaged material of my books. The stories revealed were always within the commonwealth but needed a particular assemblage to become visible. My current work, while still culling from our known world, requires a greater degree of movement away from the "original." The created becomes the "real" while the "original" is transformed into metaphor.
The methods of structuring my books, the use of narrative to create an emotional and intellectual experience for the viewer, the techniques of image creation and writing, and the material use and references all parallel my design profession and role as an educator. I utilize the same skills and knowledge-bases in the service of a client-based practice for my self-generated work.
For example, my work relies upon visual stereotypes in order to subvert them. Visual Communication is an eclectic discipline where the designer is exposed to and must navigate many different fields of knowledge to understand what is stereotypical within those fields and then develop design solutions that are particular, non-generalized narratives.
The ability to analyze imagery in formal and cultural terms is also essential to studio practice. In design, this critical ability is essential to understanding what an audience response will be to any number of design possibilities. My critical writing experience in design yields a fictional narrative voice within the artist book. Criticism is moved from an analytical method to a narrative device. By utilizing image-criticism in the context of my current work, the audience/reader is pushed to also ask what we overlook in the everyday—the dichotomies we wish to ignore, the poetic contained within the horrific.
In addition to the ideas and methods relating to design concepts and methodology, the formal and material components of my work bear a relation to contemporary visual communication. The work utilizes current technology but also incorporates methods and materials that have gone relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. This eclecticism is both appropriate for the fabulist tales I construct and also reflects the current profile of the design profession.
Communication designers are cultural appropriators, cobblers, assemblers, archaeologists, and makers—visual and textual rhetoricians making their arguments to their audiences.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.