Macey Rhodes, a senior BFA student in her last semester at Indiana University, is singular in that two of her designs were chosen to be part of the Themester poster series. She discusses the inspiration behind her two posters and where her art career will lead her next.
Tell me about the transition period from your previous art to the Themester work that you’ve been doing this year.
I went through, like, a big phase where I felt kind of burnt out because I do a lot of illustrating and specifically portraits, and also a lot of designs with music artists and such. So it’s just a lot of dealing with the same thing over and over, and I got tired of it. So, last semester when I learned the theme was “Identity and Identification,” I asked myself, “how am I going to stray away from people?” and also portraying identity without using a person directly. So I decided to take a more abstract route. The first poster was that one with the rainbows and the little polka dots– the thought behind it was representing individual identity within a community, if that makes sense. All of the shapes are the same, but the coloring of each shape is slightly different, so it’s talking about how even if you identity with a certain thing, you are also a whole person that has a lot of different facets. And then the second one is quite straightforward– I looked at a lot of DNA sequences, and then figured out a way to make those more aesthetic to talk about the identity that you get from your family and genetics. It’s simple, but I think it works well.
The topic of identity was a nice thing to transition into, because last fall I did a project that was based around re-defining the way that I look at myself. I did ten 3D models of me and posed them in different ways, you know, designed them in different ways that reflected previous negatives that I saw about myself and how I could redefine them. So, it was nice to think about moving from personal identity to broader ways that you can have an identity and how other people can identify with things. I think I already looked at myself in terms of identity, and it was a great way to move out from that.
How does it feel to be exhibiting two posters here for Themester?
See, I guess I haven’t really thought about it! I see the Instagram posts and I’ve seen the posters, but I almost feel like there’s this disconnect between artist and art. Like... I guess the art doesn’t stop once I’ve completed it. [laughs] I haven’t really thought about the fact that a ton of people have probably seen it, and I have no idea!
I’ve done a couple small exhibits in high school, and there was an exhibit in an art school that I was a part of, but I don’t have a lot of experience with exhibits yet. I also think there’s a big difference between graphic designers and, say, traditional art in galleries that are way more prevalent. I think design is a lot of client work, so exhibitions can become a background thing that I’ll think about if I have time. But I do want to display more of my work, because that’s something I forget about.
Do you have any post-grad plans? What are they?
So, I work right now for a small business in Bloomington that does wedding invitations, stationery, planning design, all that. It’s something that I enjoy but it’s not necessarily the design job that I want to do for the rest of my life, so right now post-grad plans include staying with that company until I can find something else. I think, ideally, I’m kind of an environmentalist, so I would love to do something with the Parks Project or the National Parks or something of that sort. But those jobs are few are far in between, and also not very . . . lucrative, I think. I also really like entertainment design, like band merch, posters, album covers, things like that. I feel like that’s every designer’s dream, kind of. I have a backup plan, but because I already have something in line that’s good, I’m not super stressed about it so far.