Maria Rogal (MFA ’95)

Associate Professor, Graphic Design Area Head,
School of Art and Art History, College of Fine Arts
University of Florida.
Graduate Thesis project at VCU—The Medium and The Message in the Public Space as a Vehicle for Social Change

Maria Rogal is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Florida (UF), where she has been teaching since 1997. Her work explores the potential of design and visual communication to positively shape the human experience. She is the founder of Design for Development (D4D), an initiative in which graphic design faculty and students work with indigenous artisans, farmers, and organizers in rural Mexico on grassroots economic development projects. Through D4D she collaborates with her students and partners in rural communities to develop products and business strategies relevant to constituents and the context. Through their interactions they share design thinking and processes with partners and inform their process and work by learning in context. 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.

Rogal is the recipient of several grants to support her work in Mexico, including a 2014 Sappi “Ideas That Matter” grant, the inaugural AIGA Design Research Grant (2008), a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar grant (2006–2007) and a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad grant (2007). She shares her process and findings at numerous conferences, including the AIGA H3 Biennial Conference (2013), GLIDE ‘10: Global Interaction in Design—where she was awarded best paper—and at MX09 Design Conference: Social Impact of Design (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City). Her article “Identity and Representation: (Yucatec) Maya in the Visual Culture of Tourism” was recently published in the Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies Journal and she contributed to the Icograda Design Education Manifesto Update (2011). Her creative design work has appeared in national and international juried exhibitions in the UK, Hungary, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and the US.


broadside, 2007–08

Visual representation of Fulbright research: the visual culture of the Yucatán peninsula is at once both “central” and “peripheral” to the very concept and content of Mexicanidad. The visual culture is “peripheral” because of the strong identification of Mexicanidad with the regional symbols and culture of central and northern Mexico. It is “central” because Yucatán is a large tourist market in which national and international visitors are heavy consumers of Mexicanidad. Supported by Fulbright Fellowships (2006–2007).

As a broadside/paper/creative works, this was presented initially at LASA 2007. A later revision was presented at ERIP 2008 (UC San Diego). I transformed it into my 2012 article, “Identity and Representation: (Yucatec) Maya in the Visual Culture of Tourism” in Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.

Every Sunday the city of Mérida, México closes the central square to create a place for the community to gather. On this day, and wearing my orange shoes, I stopped in the center of this center to observe how people navigated the space around me. These photographs reflect 10 minutes and 42 seconds of that time. Featured in 500 Handmade Books, Volume 2, p. 290.

(Creative Director &Principal Investigator)
research, identity, website, packaging, collateral–2012-present

I worked with Kanan Honey and FUMEC to co-design this bilingual website to support their new initiative to export honey to the US and UK. Working with members of Kanan since 2006, this work exemplifies my D4D methodology and philosophy, focusing on fieldwork and long-term collaboration for development strategically. Online at
Funded by a grant from the Mexican Government’s National Institute of the Entrepreneur (2014).

Maria Rogal on the web:

What mattered about the MFA in Design, Visual Communications
In the MFA program I began to develop a sophisticated understanding of design—one that is highly conceptual, theoretical, and broadly conceived. I found the different perspectives and interests—embracing the plurality of design—liberating. Of course, I had incredible mentors and peers, who inspired me and I began to unite my many interests, which are fundamental to my work today.