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Kelly received her Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Before joining the faculty at Michigan State University, she was Program Head of Graphic Design and Assistant Professor at Kansas City Art Institute. Other previous teaching experiences include RISD and The College of New Jersey.
Her concepts and design work have been published in several books, including Sustainable: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and Their Clients; Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work: An Explorative Guide to Making, Thinking, And Writing; Typography, Referenced: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to the Language, History, and Practice of Typography; and Designing for the Greater Good: The Best in Cause-Related Marketing and Nonprofit Design. Kelly has presented at national and international conferences, and guest lectured at several universities in the United States. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and selected by Graphis, Print, Creative Quarterly, GD USA, United Designs, AIGA Kansas City, and AIGA Detroit competitions. She develops design solutions through elevate design—her independent company—for clients across the country.
She serves as a Regional Director (USA) of the international United Designs Alliance, and previously served as President of the Detroit Chapter of AIGA, the professional associate for design—which followed five years in the role of Education Director for the Detroit and Kansas City Chapters.
A retired two-time Olympian, she balances her passion for design and education with miles of rowing on the Huron River.
My work explores environmental issues through typographic, photographic and volumetric integration.
Graphic design fundamentally relies on the sense of sight through the creative process. But the sense of touch is naturally awakened when volumetric challenges are folded into a process. Inspired by architecture and industrial design, I consider materiality and tactility as creative, influential, and expressive opportunities—parallel to the open paths of experimentation I pursue with type and image.
I hope my work demonstrates a span of alternatives—in creative, dimensional and environmental realms. Given the power of a message, I attempt to contribute to society through creative participation and the cultivation of our future design practitioners. The processes of both design practice, and design education are fascinating, fluid and perpetual. When design is truly embraced, its essential lessons become a part of the way one lives and thinks.