Acayo Joins Notre Dame University's Visual Communication Design Program
Penina Acayo, 2013 graduate of the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University, earned a position as a Research Associate in Visual Communication Design at Notre Dame University’s Department of Art, Art History and Design.
The newly formed position was created to offer post-doctoral, or post terminal degree, candidates more professional experience in teaching and research. The position will allow Acayo to continue her thesis research, share it with the faculty and students at Notre Dame and receive feedback as she moves forward. Acayo hopes to maintain the connections she has in Uganda, as well as new connections at Notre Dame, to test the curriculum she developed in her thesis.
Acayo is currently managing several of the department facilities (Cregg Commons Gallery, computer labs, printing and resource labs) and providing research methodology guidance for students working on a design for good project. The project Acayo is assisting with is a continued collaboration with Justin Ahrens, of Rule29, who worked with Visocky O’Grady, Acayo and a team of VCD graduate students on an award-winning project to combat malaria in Kibera, Kenya. Acayo is serving as a resource for the current design for good project, which focuses on water issues in Uganda.
Acayo is also writing curriculum for a design research methods course, which will be the first course she teaches next semester. The class is for both visual communication design and industrial design majors.
“I’m working with Ken Visocky O’Grady on putting together a design research class that will be a combination of industrial design and visual communication design. It’s a lot of learning but I’m excited to test it,” Acayo said.
The design program at Notre Dame has expanded in the last several years. Anne Berry, fellow VCD alumna, also works in the design department at Notre Dame.
“We have a Flashes thing going on, and we’re slowly sharing things we learned from Kent State with their program,” Acayo said. "Berry’s introduced environmental graphic design to the curriculum and students here.”
“It’s definitely no Kent,” Acayo said, as she described how she valued her alma mater, the experience she had in the MFA program at Kent State and the relationships she built here.