Associate Professor of Graphic Design Maria Rogal was recently selected as a recipient of a 2014 Ideas that Matter grant, which is sponsored by Sappi Fine Paper North America. The grant program annually recognizes and supports designers who use their skills and expertise to solve communications problems for a wide range of charitable activities.
With the grant, Rogal, her team, including MFA alumna Gaby Hernández, and the Fundación Mexico-Estados Unidos para la Ciencia (or United States - Mexico Foundation for Science) will complete and produce designs with Kanan Honey. Once produced, they aim to use the designs to internationally market the company.
“One of our objectives is to seek importers and/or retail locations to sell the honey in the United States,” said Rogal. “The goal of this project is to create local businesses and business models that will provide sustainable economic opportunities for indigenous people living in rural communities in Mexico.”
Rogal has always been interested in using graphic design to encourage economic and environmental development, as well bring awareness to social justice. She completes this type of work through her initiative called Design for Development.
Design for Development integrates design research, teaching and practice specifically for communities in southern Mexico.
“It's not only taking our design skills and moving them to rural Mexico, but it centers on developing our understanding and integrating intercultural ideas in the design process and practice, as well as participating in the larger conversation around economic and social development,” said Rogal.
Since 1999, Ideas that Matter has funded more than 500 nonprofit projects, just like Rogal’s. This prestigious grant program is the only one of its kind.
“Sappi Fine Papers North America is generous in supporting this kind of work which is so difficult to get funded because a lot of the design doesn't fit neatly into typical grant structures,” said Rogal. “The process is also comprehensive and rigorous, so to be selected is really quite an honor for all of us working on this project.”