Graphic Designer to an MIT Faculty Member: Jacqueline Casey

Unknown, photo of Jacqueline Casey.
Unknown, photo of Jacqueline Casey.

Jacqueline Casey was an American graphic designer who created posters and other materials for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her works infused American and Swiss elements in her designs, and displayed her exploration of abstraction, negative space, scale, and typography. She is also known for her word plays and visual metaphors. Many times, Casey expressed that her goal was to “stop anyone I can with an arresting or puzzling image, and entice the viewer to read the message in small type and above all to attend the exhibition” (Heller 279).

Casey was born on April 20, 1927 in Quincy, Massachusetts (MIT News). In 1949, she graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, and received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, concentrating in fashion design and illustration (Heller 279). Casey worked in fashion, advertising, and interior decorating before getting a job at MIT’s Office of Publications. In 1955, she was hired by Muriel Cooper (1925-1994), who was a design director and also an alumnus to the Massachusetts College of Art. Cooper had asked her to create promotions for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Summer Sessions) (Sherin). Alongside Cooper, Swiss designer Theresa Moll also worked with Casey and taught her the principles of design. As well, Moll introduced elements of Swiss design and became an influence to Casey (Sherin). Other Swiss designers that inspired Casey’s works were Karl Gerstner and Armin Hofmann (Eye Magazine).

Jacqueline Casey continued to produce posters and catalogs to promote MIT’s events, programs, lectures, and art exhibitions. In 1972, Casey took Cooper’s position as director of the Office of Publications after Cooper left to join the MIT faculty (Eye Magazine). Casey was one of the few leading women in the field, which were mostly of male colleagues. Not only was she outstanding as a female in a male-dominated world, she was anointed as a faculty member responsible for graphic design, in which MIT was one of the first American colleges to hire graphic designers as an instructing staff member (Heller 279).

Jacqueline Casey, “Russia, USA Peace”, 1985. Poster.
Fig 1. Jacqueline Casey, “Russia, USA Peace”, 1985. Poster. 

(Fig 1.) Casey distinguishes ‘USA’ in the word ‘RUSSIA” by using the colours red and white. In addition, there is an image of Earth in the background and the poster overall suggests the peace that the two countries strived for.

Jacqueline Casey worked for more than 30 years at MIT until she passed away on May 18, 1992 after a long battle with cancer. Her works are still showcased and some of her pieces are a part of permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Library of Congress in Washington (Sherin). Casey would be a useful contribution to Graphic Design: A New History as she was “an accelerator of change” (Heller 279) for both MIT and designers around the world. Through her works, Casey represented the experimental and future orientated aspect of MIT and popularized the Swiss elements and International type throughout the nation.

 

Works Cited:

“Designer Jacqueline Casey Dies at 65.” MIT News, 20 May 1992, https://news.mit.edu/1992/casey-0520.

Heller, Steven, and Greg D’Onofrio. The Moderns : Midcentury American Graphic Design, Abrams, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/oculocad-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5060765.

Sherin, Aaris. “Casey, Jacqueline.” Grove Art Online.  October 20, 2006. Oxford University Press. https://www-oxfordartonline-com.ocadu.idm.oclc.org/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7002021558

“Woman at the Edge of Technology.” Eye Magazine, 2008, www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/woman-at-the-edge-of-technology

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