Rebeca Méndez


Rebeca Méndez

Short Bio:

Méndez is a designer, artist and professor at UCLA, Design Media Arts, where she is director of the CounterForce Lab, a research and fieldwork studio dedicated to using art and design to develop creative collaborations, new fields of study, and methods to research, create, and execute projects around the social and ecological impacts of anthropocene climate change. Her research and practice investigates design and media art in public space, critical approaches to public identities and landscape, and artistic projects based on field investigation methods. Selected solo exhibitions: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nevada Art Museum, Reno, Nevada, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, Mexico. Selected awards: 2017 AIGA Medal of Honor; Metro Art Award for two permanent public art commissions for the Crenshaw/LAX project, 2016; January 8 Memorial Foundation Award to design the memorial and master plan, Tucson, Arizona, 2015; City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowship, 2013; National Design Award in Communication Design, bestowed by the White House and the Smithsonian Institution, 2012; California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship for Visual Artist, 2010.

Adam Eeuwens

Adam Eeuwens is a writer, editor and strategist. His latest book is ‘Niels Shoe Meulman: Painter,’ published in 2012 by From Here To Fame Publishing in Berlin, after the successful publication of ‘Calligraffiti, the Graphic Art of Niels Shoe Meulman,’ published in 2010 . Adam co-authored “False Flat, Why Dutch Design is so Good” with Aaron Betsky, a book designed by Irma Boom, and published by Phaidon Press in 2004. Adam was editorial director of 34 Magazine, a global glossy on design, architecture, art, fashion and travel, published from Istanbul; and is West Coast correspondent for the Dutch digital lifestyle magazine Bright. In his 20 years of media industry experience – divided over Europe and USA – Adam has been a journalist, editor, publisher, producer, planner, copy-writer and author. The red thread of his career is his ability to turn strategy into story. Adam is partner in the studio of Rebeca Méndez in Los Angeles, California. His motto in work and life is: “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”

Adam can be reached at adameeuwens at gmail dot com

Rebeca Méndez

Long Bio:

Rebeca Méndez is a designer and artist who has achieved excellence and distinction in both fields. She has an international reputation as a leading voice in the production of socially-grounded, aesthetically rigorous design, innovative media-inflected arts, and monumental permanent public art. Her work revolves around issues of visual communication, the intertwinings of personal identity, public identity and corporate branding, and the development of image culture in networked, transnational political economies. Her straddling and successful development of both a design and art practice is extraordinary and distinguishes her amongst her peers in both fields.

Méndez has received significant recognition for her contribution to the communication design field, including the Medal of AIGA 2017 (American Institute of Graphic Arts)—the most distinguished in the field—is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication; the 2012 National Design Award in Communication Design, bestowed by The White House and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum to honor lasting achievement in American design; a Leipzig/Germany, Bronze Medal; I.D. Magazine ‘Best in Print’ Award and inclusion in the I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review; Graphis Platinum and Gold Awards; and multiple awards from AIGA, The One Club, Type Directors Club, Art Directors Club, and The American Center for Design.

Throughout her 32-year career, she has been included in significant exhibitions of design, such as in How Posters Work, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York (2015); Getting Upper, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, California (2011); Belles Lettres: The Art of Typography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California (2005); Women Designers in The USA, 1900–2000: Diversity and Difference, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York, New York (2001); The National Design Triennial: Design Culture Now, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, New York (2000); and Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, New York (1996).

In 1998 Méndez’s design work was recognized with the solo exhibition ‘‘Rebeca Méndez: Selections from the Permanent Collection of Architecture and Design,’ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, by Aaron Betsky, curator of Architecture and Design. In his introduction wall text he wrote: “Méndez is both an artist and a graphic designer. She is a master at organizing information into minimal yet clear blocks. What is distinctive about her work is what happens around and underneath this information.”

Méndez’s art practice has been recognized with solo and two person exhibitions including: Rebeca Méndez: At Any Given Moment at the Nevada Art Museum, Reno, Nevada (2012); Each Day at Noon: Rebeca Méndez, Café Hammer, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012); Rebeca Méndez, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, Mexico (2011); and Energy at the Williamson Gallery, Pasadena, California (2010). Méndez has shown her artwork at the 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2014); Arte Laguna, Nappe Arsenale, Venice, Italy (2016); SUR:Biennial, Cerritos College Art Gallery (2015); IV Bienal Ciudad Juárez/El Paso Biennial 2015, Muséo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez and El Paso Museum of Art (2015); Due North / í Nor∂ur, Crane Arts, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia (2014); X Bienal de Arte: Intersecciones: Memoria, Realidad y Nuevos Tiempos, Cuenca, Ecuador (2009), among others.

Since 1995, Méndez’s work has been in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Latin American Design. Other collections include, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; the Nevada Museum of Contemporary Art, Reno; the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso; the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena; the Denver Art Museum, Denver; and Museo José Luís Cuevas, Mexico City.

Other recognition includes, the Ciudad Juárez Museum of Art, Border Biennial 2015 Award; a 2012–13 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Fellowship; a GLOW 2013 Fellowship and 1st artist in residency; and a 2010 California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship for Visual Artist. Artist residencies awarded include, SOMA, Mexico City (2017); NES Listami∂stö∂ Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland (2013); the ARS Bio Arctica Art Residency in Kilpisjärvi, Finland (2011), and the HIAP Artist Residency in Suomenlinna, Finland. (2011); The Arctic Circle Artist Residency, Svalbard, Norway (2010) and the Gunnar Gunnarson Institute, Artist Residency, Egilsta∂ir, Iceland (2008).

Rebeca Méndez was born and raised in México City, immigrating to the United States in 1980. As a Latin American woman, Méndez has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and she is a role model for aspiring young women designers across Latin America. While the majority of her peers reach East and West, she reaches South, creating academic exchanges, exhibiting her work, lecturing and giving workshops throughout Latin America. Lecture/workshop programs include ‘DISEÑO,’ Cooper Hewitt/El Museo del Barrio program 2014; a TEDx Talk in 2011; keynote speaker at Trueque Creativo International Symposium, Cuenca, Ecuador in 2009 and at Semana de Diseño de la Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile in 2007.

Reviews of her work have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, T Magazine (blog), The White House (blog), The San Francisco Chronicle, art ltd, Wallpaper*, Eye, Metropolis, IDEA, and I.D. magazines, among others. Her work has been reviewed by renowned authors such as Ellen Lupton, Steven Heller, Brooke Hodge, Christopher Hawthorne, Alma Ruiz, Rick Poynor, Max Bruinsma, Holly Willis, and George Melrod, to name a few. Her work has been the subject for academic analysis, such as in David Schwarz’s book An Introduction to Electronic Art Through the Teaching of Jacques Lacan: Strangest Thing, Routledge. 2014, and Maud Levin’s book Clean New World: Culture, Politics, and Graphic Design. MIT Press. 2002.

She has been remarkably successful in moving between the academy and industry, combining a research-oriented personal practice with high level professional and managerial positions, that includes stints as: the Designer for the College at Art Center College of Design (1989–1995); a private practice since 1996, Rebeca Méndez Design, that specializes in work with cultural and socially-oriented clients; art director at the independent, creatively driven advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy 1999; and as creative director and head of Brand Integration Group (BIG), Los Angeles, for Ogilvy & Mather, the global advertising agency, 2000–2003. In other words, Méndez is the quintessential professional who teaches, and as such brings in a wealth of experience to the classroom, studio and seminar.

This unique combination has made her both an inspiration for the students and an invaluable resource for the department. As a Latina professor and professional, her influence on the undergraduate population at UCLA both within and outside the department cannot be overstated, as both role model and mentor.

In 1996 she founded Rebeca Méndez Design with partner and writer Adam Eeuwens, a multidisciplinary studio focused on design for art, architecture and other cultural clients, as well as for non-profit organizations. Her design research and practice is in brand strategy and design, architectural immersive spaces, experience design, and book design. Méndez has the ability to lead large teams and design award winning global brands, including for IBM and Motorola, as well as design intimate and exquisitely crafted books for cultural clients, including Bill Viola for the Whitney Museum and Suprasensorial for MOCA. Through her studio, she has created projects for cultural clients such as Morphosis Architects, Gehry Partners, The Getty Center, MOCA, Guggenheim Berlin, SFMOMA, and artist Bill Viola. Other professional experience include her appointment as senior partner/creative director of Brand Integration Group (BIG) for Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles (2000–2003), where Méndez led global branding projects for clients such as IBM, AT&T Wireless, Trend Micro, and Motorola. Méndez joined Wieden+Kennedy as art director to work on the Microsoft account to develop, among other projects, the concept and design of the Microsoft Store (1998–1999). Méndez was design director of Art Center College of Design, Design Office. She is known for her critical role in the redesign and reassessment of her alma mater’s visual and cultural identity (1989–1995).

She is known for her career-long commitment to ‘design as a social force,’ and was recently awarded the ‘2016 Vision Over Violence Humanitarian Award,’ by Peace Over Violence, Los Angeles, for the design of a comprehensive brand identity program for the organization Peace Over Violence, creating powerful visual campaigns that seek to promote healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. Alongside this award, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti honored Méndez with a ‘City of Los Angeles Congratulations’ proclamation.

Parallel to her design research and practice Méndez has Rebeca Méndez Studio, the platform for her art research and practice, which is in various media—photography, 16mm film, video, and installation—with which she explores the nature of perception and media representation, specifically how cultures express themselves through the style of nature that they produce at a given time and the medium through which they construct this nature. At the core of her research and practice is artistic fieldwork, which borrows methods from various disciplines—from sociology to design to science fiction writing, and merges the apparent objectivity of scientific research with a subjective, flexible approach, drawing on multiple methodologies and discourses. Méndez engages in explorations surveying the earth, walking, investigating things in the field, and her projects often take the form of unusual archives, presenting the results of her research in multiple forms, in films, photographs, installations, animations, drawings, books and/or text. She moves through different scales with ease—from photographic prints, to immersive sound and video installations, to murals of more than 25,000 square feet, to installations involving sixty-foot boulders and tons of lava rock. She considers the journey as a medium in itself and has produced a significant body of work based on travels to unfamiliar and extreme places such as Iceland, Patagonia, Svalbard archipelago in the high arctic, and the Sahara, where she is awakened to a heightened level of perception.

Through artistic fieldwork and public art, Méndez dissolves the disciplinary boundary between art and design. The synthesis of her design and art expertise is exemplified in her current permanent public art commission to design the January 8 Memorial in Tucson, Arizona. The memorial honors the victims and survivors of the January 8, 2011 mass shooting that left 6 victims and 13 survivors, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Méndez’s design is inspired by the Hohokam petroglyphs, a symbolic system over 6,000 years old. The memorial will be inaugurated in 2018 and might soon be designated a United States National Monument.

Other permanent public art commissions include, two METRO ART commissions for the Crenshaw/LAX project (2015); Los Angeles County Arts Commission for three commissions—two at the Pico Rivera Public Library (2013) and one at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (2008); and two commissions for the University of Cincinnati Recreation Center (2005–06). Méndez has created award winning permanent public artworks in projects by renowned architects including Thom Mayne, Morphosis; Michael Lehrer, Lehrer Architects; and Silvia Kuhle and Jeffrey Allsbrook, Standard L.A. She has collaborated in projects with architects Greg Lynn, Richard Weinstein, Cooper Robertson Partners, and Frank O. Gehry.

Méndez has extensive experience as a design educator (1986–2016). After teaching at Art Center College of Design (1986–1996), Rebeca Méndez joined UCLA, Design Media Arts Department as full professor in 2003. She is currently Professor Step VI and is director of the UCLA CounterForce Lab, a research and fieldwork studio dedicated to using design and art to develop creative collaborations, new fields of study, and methods to research, create, and execute projects around the social and ecological impacts of anthropocene climate change. Méndez’s interests and initiatives are a bridge between art, design and science, and demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable future.

One of her signature classes is ‘Brand Laboratory,’ which she designed and since 2004 co-teaches over a two-quarter sequence with another faculty member. Brand Lab is dedicated to the development of design research and strategy, in particular in the areas of organization, culture, and identity.

In addition to her design and media arts practices, Prof. Méndez has been one of the mainstays of the department’s design pedagogy, and has taken a leadership role in service, to the department, the School of Arts and Architecture and the university as a whole. She has made significant contributions to the department as Chair of the Curriculum Committee from 2007–2012, a role she has embodied very effectively. Alongside her colleagues who also served on this committee, she has designed and overseen the transformational curriculum revision that was enacted in the 2012-13 academic year, defending the tenets of graphic design amid the onslaught of new media disciplines. Most recently, Méndez was selected to serve in the search committee for the Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture (2015–16), and in 2015 she became the School of the Arts and Architecture liaison to the office of the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity & inclusion. From that platform Méndez facilitates communication with our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and shares information on initiatives, lectures, events, about diversity, equity, and inclusion that encourage discourse, foster community and ultimately create a healthy climate of inclusion.

For her exemplary career as an artist, designer and educator, Méndez was selected for inclusion in An Imaginative Offer—an initiative of the School of The Arts and Architecture as part of the UCLA Centennial, alongside theater director Peter Sellars, artist Catherine Opie, curator Polly Nooter Roberts, artist Kristy Edmunds, and architect Thom Mayne. Through the unique voices of the UCLA Arts community, An Imaginative Offer celebrates the essential role of the arts in society.