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As COVID-19 Shutters World, MICA Design Talks Go Global

MICA Graphic Design trailblazers Ellen Lupton and Brockett Horne will moderate more than a dozen lectures this fall; four talks to be streamed live for public.

BALTIMORE — While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down much of the world, MICA’s Graphic Design programs are using online teaching tools to bring speakers from across the globe into the classroom.

This semester, MICA Design Talks will host more than a dozen lectures — four of which will be livestreamed and open to the public for free — that cover topics from design activism, queering design, inclusive design, decolonizing design and more. 

This lecture series, made possible by Betty Cooke, supports work of MICA students seeking to integrate design theory into their work and particularly, their thesis projects. Contemporary designers, critics, and theorists inspire students to build their knowledge of design discourse and professional design methodologies. 

The four live streamed lectures will be moderated by either Ellen Lupton, founding director of the MFA in Graphic Design, or Brockett Horne, Graphic Design BFA chair. All will take place at 1:15 p.m. and be available on MICA's Facebook.

For more information about all of the talks, visit

The live streamed lectures are as follows:

Design and Covid-19, Sept. 29
Designers have found novel ways to apply their skills in response to the public health crisis.

This program will include Dr. Nzinga Harrison, the Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Eleanor Health, a value-based provider of comprehensive, outpatient addiction treatment who is pioneering the field of virtual patient care in the age of Covid-19; Rachel Smith, a Latina UX Designer who founded Design to Combat COVID-19, a virtual community of over 2,000 creatives working globally to support communities affected by COVID-19 and who co-founded Masks for Docs, which delivers free PPE to health care workers and underserved communities globally; and Dr. Bon Ku, the Marta and Robert Adelson Professor of Medicine and Design at Thomas Jefferson University who is an emergency medicine physician and director of Jefferson’s Health Design Lab. 

Queering Design, Oct. 13
A goal of queer theory is to critique binary structures, imagining alternative ways of establishing identity.

This conversation will include John Hanawalt, a Principal Product Designer at Stitch Fix and co-founder of Queer Design Club; Nicole Killian, who uses graphic design, publishing, video, objects and installation to investigate how the structures of the internet, mobile messaging, and shared online platforms affect contemporary interaction and shape cultural identity from a queer perspective; and Jon Key, an artist, designer, and writer who aside from founding MorcosKey studio in New York, is also a Co-Founder and Design Director at Codify Art, a multidisciplinary collective dedicated to creating and supporting work by artists of color, particularly women, queer, and trans artists. 

Design Activism, Oct. 20
This session explores how self-initiated design can create radical change for society, as well as possible pitfalls for designers with good intentions.

This panel presents short talks by include Mikea Hugley, who runs Cre8t1v3, designing graphics, products, and branding, is a graduate of MICA and has received numerous grants and awards, including the AIGA World Studio Scholarship; Lesie Xia, a queer Chinese American art director, who studied graphic design at MICA and has worked for companies including The Foundry at Meredith, Men's Health, VICE News, and Fast Company; and Ronin Wood, a graphic designer currently working at Starry Internet who brings his experience working in-house for brands to support candidates and causes he believes in, including Jabari Brisport for New York State Senate in 2020 and Suraj Patel for Congress in 2018, and NYDSA.

Sustainable Design, Nov. 24
Sustainable design considers the environmental, social, and economic impacts of designed objects from their inception to end of life.

This discussion will feature Marie Otsuka, a graphic designer seeking to change the tools of communication, who is the designer and developer of Low-Tech Magazine’s solar-powered website; Curry Hackett, who combines public art, graphic design, and urban design, and whose design practice, Wayside Studio in Washington, DC, collaborates with communities and organizations to engage culture, ecology, and place; and Kristian Bjornard, who designs books, identities, websites, and digital tools investigating design and sustainability, and is a co-founder of, a global, cross-disciplinary platform and a teacher at MICA, where he earned an MFA in graphic design.