MARYLAND INSTITUTE COLLEGE OF ART (MICA)
Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, educator, and designer. She is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Recent exhibitions include Beauty – Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (with Andreas Lipps), How Posters Work, and Beautiful Users. Lupton also serves as director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) in Baltimore, where she has authored numerous books on design processes, including Thinking with Type, Graphic Design Thinking, Graphic Design: The New Basics, and Type on Screen. Her next book, Design Is Storytelling, will be published by Cooper Hewitt in 2017. Lupton earned her BFA from The Cooper Union in 1985.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
Design can change how people see the world. People engage with design as makers and users. As a curator at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, I create exhibitions for the general public. Thousands of people visit the museum each week, and I get to meet just a few of them personally. As faculty at MICA, I’m working with students in a more personal way. I learn so much from talking with students about how design works and what’s its purpose is in society. I’ve have a truly exhilarating career immersed in the discourse of design – history, theory, practice, methodology, aesthetics.
IS THERE A SPECIAL CHALLENGE TO EDUCATING STUDENTS IN 2017 IN LIGHT OF TODAY’S POLITICS OR ECONOMICS OR TECHNOLOGY OR CULTURE OF THIS MOMENT?
MICA students come from all over the world and from all over the US. Many students feel uncertain about the future. Baltimore has experienced police violence and social upheaval. It is important now, as always, to use design as a tool for truth-telling, for illuminating what is happening in the world. Many of our students seek to use design to address issues such as racial discrimination, LGBTQIA rights, sustainability, income inequality, and globalization. At the same time, students are preparing for professional careers and learning to communicate across many media platforms. The challenges are big, but our students have so much energy.