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VCFA MFA in Graphic Design fall 2020 graduating class member Danbee Park’s thesis work, “Maps, Masks, and Monsters” (2020)

Thread, the thesis website for the fall 2020 graduating class of VCFA’s MFA in Graphic Design, launched the week of October 5, during the program’s fall remote residency. Paris-based web designer/developer Mattieu Moreau-Domecq created the site, which showcases students’ thesis work and the books each graduate wrote, designed, and produced.

VCFA’s class of fall 2020 included Anne Bonenfant, Jeremy Luther, Susan Matherne, Danbee Park, Sarah Patterson, Lex Poolos, Nathan Spainhour, and Laura Young. On the experience of reenvisioning her thesis presentation for a virtual format in light of the pandemic, Young said, “The landscape of my thesis semester vastly changed from the intimate critique groups in Alumnx Hall to Zoom breakout sessions, but, despite the distance between myself and the program, the love and community of VCFA radiated out at me as I accepted my degree. The challenges of attending a graduate program during a pandemic can be many, but it’s not impossible.” 

VCFA offers one of the only low-residency MFA in Graphic Design degrees in the country, and its successful pivot to a remote-residency model highlights the flexibility of this program. Navigating these times helps prepare students for post-MFA life as working designers, continually adjusting to and improving with new technology, information, and working structures. 

One important and ongoing improvement involves acknowledging and addressing inequities within the field of design. This fall’s virtual residency explored issues of white supremacy in design thinking, the underrepresentation of designers from the African continent, a new look at book design, and more. The residency featured visiting designers Antionette Carroll (St. Louis), Malick Kebe (Abidjan), Olivier Lebrun (Paris), Jamal Nxedlana (Johannesburg), and Ngadi Smart (London). The thread that ties VCFA’s design community together is composed of fibers both global and varied, making the strongest fabric.

Visit vcfa.edu/gdfall2020 to view the show and learn more about the residency.

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