I am an educator, artist, scholar, and life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity. For those interested in the alphabet soup, I have a Ed.D., MFA, MA, and BA. My highest degree is in Education and Community College Leadership and my dissertation was on the role of the creative arts in student success for non-arts majors. My previous studies were in the arts from Photography/Journalism (BA) and then Advertising Design (MA), and Studio Art/Design (MFA), the last two with a strong cross-cultural focus. Visit lookinglassdesign.org for insights into my creative work.
Sometimes I forget how our stories become buried in the past. So when a writer from My City Magazine contacted me this past winter, I figured she was contacting me about promoting the Graphic Design program which will be celebrating 20 years this Fall.
Lo and behold, she insisted the story was to be about me… personally. Not one to be comfortable in the limelight, I reluctantly agreed, but always tried to steer back to the graphic design program. The writer, however, became intrigued with the back story… my story. How we shape our lives, our perspective, how we channel it into art, a career, a life… Even so, as I read through the final version of the article after it was published, I was reminded how much of a winding road my life’s journey has been. I’m looking forward to even more adventures in the future!
Whenever any of my students tell me they are unsure how to narrow down their career and/or life choices, I am reminded that my own life has hardly been a straight line. This lovely article written by Anne Trelfa of My City Magazine, though fairly thorough, just barely touches the surface. An adventure nonetheless! Read the article and come to your own conclusions!
PS: As in all things, no matter how many times one reads through, errors occur. There were only three minor errors that I offer corrections for here. First: The Fulbright I received was a Fulbright Specialist Grant and I taught a class at the Ekaterinburg Academy of Contemporary Art. It was not for me to study abroad… though all scholars and artists, by nature, study their surroundings! Second: Time was muddied a bit for content discussing my doctoral studies which began in Spring 2011. My Fulbright and my husband Keith’s subsequent illness and passing was the following year in Spring/Summer 2012. Third: The photo of me in my office at the University Media Center, USP, was taken by Litiana Waqalevu, the Media Center photographer who taught me more than a few lessons in crossing cultures! Nevertheless, Fijian spellings are often prone to spellcheck miscorrections.
Back in 1997, upon my return to the states after six years abroad, I created my first design website and titled it Looking Glass Design. It was an impetuous choice but based upon the interpretation of my experiences slipping across cultures, time and space, often feeling and then embracing the disorientation of the clash of the familiar and unfamiliar as a traveler in a global village.
After more than 20 years creating and teaching design, and two additional graduate degrees, my professional (and personal) life has truly evolved. The details, or at least the reflections, can be read on a separate personal blog here – Mara’s Blog. However, as I continue to heavily weave together creative works, design thinking, and the mission of education, my professional (and personal) goals have continued to evolve. There is nothing like going through major adversity to spin your life’s directions around from where you thought it might have been pointed before.
Creative work flows within my veins and continuing to create is one of my primary objectives. But defining what is creative work has expanded for me, especially in the realm of the narrative and visual arts. So as I move forward, traditional graphic design in a commercial sense has less of a place in my work, whereas design for social change, design as a methodology for improving education, and design as an outlet for creating art… all of these more accurately describe where art and design define my current direction.
This newly updated website for my work, under the web domain Looking Glass Design, serves not so much as an active marketing device for more commercial work but as a a place to share current creative explorations, and as a repository of past work. As this space evolves, I hope you’ll find peace, joy, and fulfillment in your own creative work. Namaste!