Research interests: design for development, design theory, semiotics, ethnography, intercultural design, and typography
Maria Rogal is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Florida (UF), where she has been teaching since 1997. Her trans-cultural background and perspective influences her work, which focuses on the relationship between culture and design and how we can leverage the potential of design, broadly defined, to positively shape the human experience.
Rogal was awarded a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar grant (2006–2007) and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad grant (2007) to conduct research in the Yucatán region of Mexico and teach in the Social Communication program at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (www.uady.mx). During this time she led the development of the identity, information design projects, and comprehensive website for the department of immigration for INDEMAYA (Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Cultura Maya) for Yucatán state. It was through these projects that she met people living in marginalized communities and began to focus on ways to apply design for socio-economic development. She also expanded on earlier design research in Mexico by creating the Design for Development (D4D) initiative in which graphic design students and faculty work with artisans, farmers, and organizers in Maya communities to explore ways design processes and products, and designers, can foster local development projects. In 2008 she received the inaugural American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Design Research Grant to continue the D4D initiative and presented papers on aspects of this work at GLIDE ‘10: Global Interaction in Design (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)—where she was awarded best paper—and at MX09 Design Conference: Social Impact of Design (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City). She contributed to the AIGA New Contexts/New Practices Social Economies thread (AIGA Design Education Conference October 2010) and to the ICOGRADA Design Education Manifesto Update, launched in October 2011, and her article “Identity and Representation: (Yucatec) Maya in the Visual Culture of Tourism” was published in the Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies Journal.
She continues to conduct the majority of her research in Mexico, where she explores and analyzes the visual representation of indigenous cultures; works on entrepreneurial projects with indigenous cooperatives; and develops design materials and products with indigenous people in rural communities to aid in demystifying and breaking down stereotypes. Her projects are interdisciplinary and she uses design as a conduit to work in areas of intercultural communication, cultural anthropology, environmental ecology, technology, globalization, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. In addition to working with scholars, students, and government officials, she work with members of organizations in rural communities to support social and economic development.
Her writing includes “Mexico: My, Your, Our Fantasy: The Problem of Flatness in Intercultural Representations of Mexicanidad” in the International Journal of Intercultural Communication), “Cultural Hybridization in the Visual Vernacular” in the European Academy of Design Proceedings and “South of the Border…Down Mexico Way” in Visible Language. Her creative design work has appeared in several national and international juried exhibitions in the UK, Hungary, Cuba, and the US. In 2003 she was the recipient of a Fulbright Hays Fellowship to México and Costa Rica.
Rogal received her MFA in Design and Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University where her research focused on design, popular culture, and social responsibility. She received a BA in Political Science and History from Villanova University. She has worked as a senior designer for Sapient (Atlanta) on the design of large-scale websites for international clients, including the Dutch bank ING and at other design and marketing firms in the US.