• Monique Ortman Kamama
  • Chris Hardy Heaven on Their Minds
  • Scott Gladd Low-fi High Five
  • Simona Bortis-Schultz To Hold Your Heart In Your Teeth
  • Rhianna Hogan-Cerro How Do I Look?
  • Peter Kery On Lost


This work holistically explores merging my Cherokee Identity with my graphic design background. Reconnecting to culture is a difficult task many Native Americans, including myself, face because of colonization. For too long, my graphic design career and Cherokee identity were like opposite worlds, and I needed to find a balance between these two worlds. Native Americans make up a meager percentage of the Graphic Design field, and because of this, finding inspiration and graphic design resources along with representation within this field is difficult.

This work represents my experience of fusing traditional Cherokee arts and crafts methods with my techniques. Some of these visual techniques are inspired by museum field research and express contemporary issues affecting myself, my daughter, and my Native American students. By exploring the visual language of Cherokee traditional crafts, this work culminates in a typeface named Kamama, which aims to aid language preservation through a typographic vehicle.

The methods of my design practice include macroscopic collage, cyanotype and letterpress printmaking, illustration, paper-weaving, mat-weaving, type design, and growing my source materials for the above methods using traditional Cherokee plants and foods.

I hope this document is a resource for my daughter, Native American graphic design students, and graphic design educators. Through personal narrative writing, I have detailed my design process and personal growth while reconnecting to my culture. Additionally, this book contains historical writing and documentation of contemporary Native American representation by examining the tribal seals of the 39 tribes and nations within Oklahoma. This seal research presents culturally important symbolism and storytelling of each tribe within Oklahoma, also known as Indian Country.

Through this work, I am better equipped to guide my students, from many different cultural backgrounds, in expressing their cultures and identities through graphic design. 

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Heaven on Their Minds

A Survey of Visual Communications and the Black Church

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Low-fi High Five

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To Hold Your Heart In Your Teeth

Women's Work: The Semiotics of the Romanian Blouse

“A-ți lua inima în dinți” or to hold one’s heart in one’s teeth is a Romanian proverb meaning to brave forward despite fear. Simona Bortis-Schultz had gone on an archeological journey to seek the mythical heroine in her MFA thesis work. She discovered her alive and well this body of women’s work. The Romanian folk garment’s symbols echo Neolithic beginnings as protective signs that chant of preservation, fortitude and survival. Over millennia, the ravages of conquests, plagues, wars, and endless violence, a tireless endurance pressed onwards within prolific, matriarchal traditions. They perservered to create artistry where none existed, despite the torrents of invisibility based on gender biases or lack of opportunity. Forging ahead and continuing to this day to create a momentous canon of design that unveils the power of the feminine and an unwavering anthem of ethnic, international pride.

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How Do I Look?

Indulging in Imperfection to Change Your View

How Do I Look? examines the role of visual culture and design in creating the expectations society places on women.  Mistakes and damage of the past are being repeated with selfies and social media. False displays of perfection are enabling impossible beauty standards to remain alive in perpetuity. Many of us are now turning the camera on ourselves, actively participating in keeping a focus on appearance and the body. As I researched, I began to feel that I was tricked into the performance of femininity. Graphic design didn’t create the obsession with beauty and perfection in our age, but it does aid companies that benefit from it.  I began to feel a greater sense of responsibility in my job as a visual artist and communicator to push back against the flow of the expectations of my appearance and gender. 

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Peter Kery thesis featured image VCFA

On Lost

On Lost is a mosaic of short writings about my personal experiences of growing up, friends, and about getting a little lost in the woods in northern Minnesota. There are people and places lost throughout these stories, but also of things that are found, as well. Some sense of lost is what connects these stories, sometimes obviously, sometimes more opaquely. They are told in a fragmented way, as a series of small anecdotes or moments that pop up here and there and do not always follow typical narrative conventions. I followed my memories, and certain episodes came back to me as I assembled this thesis. Even now, I still feel that there are gaps and spaces to be filled if I wish to tell the whole tale of each story.

Graphic designers are storytellers. We put together words and images to help tell a tale. Sometimes we receive a whole story from someone so we may reinterpret it with type and images. Sometimes we only receive parts of a story, or only its idea, and we interpret the tale from there. Sometimes we are given imagery to help us and sometimes that imagery is telling another story. In any event, the story is told with the help of the individual or organization the tale is being told to, and to who else that individual or organization wants the tale to be told. For better or worse, we help tell that story, and that story comes from us all.

You can read, scroll, or spin the mouse wheel from beginning to end and out through the middle. You can flip, skip, and jump through the pages and catch snippets here and there. But if you get a little lost in its narrative, you may come closer to how I remembered things and how this came together.


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