Arlene Birt ’02
When she first transferred in to MCAD’s BS: Visualization program, Arlene Birt “had no idea what I'd end up doing: in fact, I still feel like my ideal job hasn't been invented yet!” Even so, with several career innovations to her credit, she says, “It's most rewarding to invent your own job.”
For Birt, that job has been a blend of journalism, graphic design, and sustainability oriented activism. “Social and ecological sustainability are so incredibly complex and large,” she says, “that words alone can’t explain them.” So, to help people comprehend a global market, she designed a chocolate-bar wrapper with a world map printed inside, showing where all the ingredients came from. She also designed a t-shirt that “told its own story,” with printing that showed cotton harvesting to eventual recycling. She’s especially interested in how native crafts are models of sustainability.
Her multiple awards include MCAD’s Vanderlip prize, a Fulbright study grant for graduate research in Holland, and arts grants on two continents. Business Week, U.S. News and World Report, and NPR have reported on her. And Birt’s projects could as easily be on a gallery wall or a boutique’s sales shelf. What unites all that she does is “narrative information” about that very, very important topic: the careful use of our Earth’s resources.