With ArtCenter degrees in two different disciplines, Rebeca Méndez' (BFA 84 Graphic Design, MFA 97 Media Design) life and work stand as a testament to defying the conventions of those fields and expanding the definition of what it means to be a working artist and designer. She has forged her own path through punishingly uncharted terrain that’s taken her to the arctic tundras of the earth’s poles, as well as many untamed territories.
Méndez began her career as a graphic designer, producing groundbreaking work that established her as a force to be reckoned with, both internationally and within the California design panorama. She received numerous awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, American Center for Design, Graphis, and the coveted ‘Best in Print’ award from I.D. Magazine, as well as being included in the permanent collection of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the same institution that in 2012 bestowed on her the National Design Award in Communication Design.
Méndez is a full professor of design and media arts at UCLA as well as a creative polymath, cultivating a visually and viscerally arresting practice as an exhibiting installation artist and designer, whose work draws from photography, video, 16mm film, typography, cartography, and architecture.
Most recently, Méndez has dedicated herself to a long-term, transdisciplinary, multimedia project entitled CircumSolar. The first artwork in the project is CircumSolar, Migration 1, a single-channel video installation with sound, projected onto a 25-feet diameter screen. The content of the film is based on the arctic tern, a very small sea bird that has the longest migration of all living beings on earth, flying from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again each year. It experiences two polar summers of 24-hour daylight each year, which makes it the one creature in world that lives the most daylight. This bird’s epic journey crystallizes Méndez’ interest in expressing a sense of the sublime through the brute force of nature’s exquisite refusal to play by anyone’s rules.
Not so different, really, from Méndez herself, whose words and images combine in the above video (directed by Grad Film alumnus, Rahat Mahajan) to tell very compelling story about her relationship with destruction, creativity, boundary-pushing and her own migratory patterns.