The Humanistic Designer: Jacqueline Casey
Personal, creative, visionary, elegant. These are the words used consistently to describe the work of MIT Graphic Designer Jacqueline Casey. Casey worked at MIT for more than 30 years, creating posters and other materials that resonated deeply with her audience.
Casey began her work in MIT’s Office of Publications (Design Services Office) in 1955, recruited by her former art school buddy, Muriel Cooper, who was then director. The office itself was considered cutting edge to have a graphic designer on staff.
Casey received her BFA from Mass College of Art. She became director in 1972 when Cooper joined the MIT faculty. Cooper described Casey’s work as follows: “The spirit of MIT nurtured her work, and in turn, her work nurtured the humanity of MIT.” (MIT News, May 20, 1992)
In particular, Casey’s posters stood out. As noted in the History of Graphic Design, the “posters generally consisted of a striking image or bold typography, accompanied by informational details in small text. She often used typographic wordplay and visual puns in her work. Speaking of her designs in 1988, she said: ‘My job is 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.’ ”
Casey no doubt enticed many a viewer through the many exhibitions of her work, including two at the MIT Museum. When she retired in 1989, she joined the MIT Media Lab as a visiting design scholar. Casey died in 1992 at the age of 65 from cancer.
Her work is part of the permanent collections in the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and the Library of Congress.
“I just think of the problem at hand, and I solve it in what I consider an appropriate way... I’ve always thought of design as being a creative act itself, creating something with a lot of emotion and excitement. I don’t see that you can pin it down with any equation.”
–Jacqueline Casey (from the History of Graphic Design)
Presented by Human Resources at MIT
MIT News Office, “Designer Jacqueline Casey Dies at 65,” May 20, 1992
Historygraphicdesign.com, Age of Information, Jacqueline S. Casey
RockPaperInk.com, Jacqueline Casey at MIT