By Mellany Armstrong
Tatiana Gómez Gaggero joined Moore College of Art & Design this year as an AICAD (Association of Independent College of Art & Design) Post-Graduate Teaching Fellow.
She describes herself as a Colombian-Chilean-French-Italian designer, highly passionate for linguistics, arts, culture, and for making with her hands. "I think of myself as a warm, empathetic, disciplined and enthusiastic human being," she said. She holds a bachelor's degree in design from the Universidad de Los Andes in her hometown of Bogotá, and a master of fine arts in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design.
The AICAD Fellowship offers eligible candidates a one-year teaching fellowship at a participating AICAD institution. Gomez is one of 17 fellows from the U.S. and Canada selected for the 2019-2020 academic year.
What classes are you teaching at Moore? This spring semester I taught Type II and Type IV in the Graphic Design department, and Color in Foundations.
During the Fall, I taught 3D Applications in Graphic design and Digital Image Making in the graphic design department, and Design I in Foundations.
This has been a crazy semester with the coronavirus changing everything. How has it been to be an AICAD fellow during this time? I was lucky because graphic design is a very digital practice, so for most of my classes the transition was pretty smooth. I was already using Moodle as a repository for the classes, so it basically just got more populated. My typography students were mainly using the Adobe Creative Suite and Glyphs—a software for typeface design, so that facilitated the demos and the online critiques. Additionally, as all my students were still in the United States, we decided to keep meeting synchronically every week as a group for an hour or so, in an effort to try to keep our disrupted schedules working somehow from home, while also keeping our sense of community active in these rough times.
This situation is proving how resilient we are as a species. We have to adapt to the current circumstances and make the most of the resources we have in hand. Parts of our brains are being unlocked, allowing unexpected experiments and outcomes to happen, which is exciting. Coming from a developing country, I am very creative and have always made the most of what I have. Always. I shared this idea with my students. Every tool they had in hand could do ten more things than what it is suppose to do.
As did every other faculty, I tested weekly different platforms to keep up spirits and improve collaboration and productivity. Trying to simulate the interaction of a face-to-face class is hard, but Zoom facilitated things a lot. I kept sharing with my students the amazing resources, broadcasts and documents that became open source. Additionally, the redefinition of our concept of time and physical space started enabling new ways to engage and collaborate. I invited my designer friend Gianluca Alla to give a talk from his home in London, and will have my husband José Menéndez—also a graphic designer who used to live in a different state than me—be an external crit for the juniors’ final critique.
What do you like about teaching at Moore? First of all, I love my students, their hunger for knowledge, their drive to make and get better every day. I like to be able to bring a younger a broader perspective to the curriculum, share with them what is going on in the practice around the world, encourage them to be critical, and push them to become empowered women designers.
I also love the openness of the community at Moore. Students, faculty and staff are wonderful, collaborative people who made my time in Philly so rich. I appreciate the small size of the school and how easy it was for me to navigate the institution in a short amount of time, collaborate with—and befriend—other faculty and staff, propose projects and actually get to work on them.
Additionally, the great resources at the school allowed a lot of experimentation and research in my classes, let alone the endless cultural life in Philadelphia, steps away from our campus.
What type of art do you practice? I am a graphic designer and my practice is divided between client work and personal projects that have a more artistic focus. I collaborate with cultural and commercial clients on projects relating to art, design, and culture, among others. The projects I work on take different forms, depending on each case. They range from exhibitions, to publications, way finding, posters, typefaces, websites, and branding.
What projects have you done that you are most proud of? So far I’m proud of every project I have done, no matter the type and scope of work. Right now, I am mostly proud of the work I have done at Moore teaching graphic design and foundations.
In terms of projects, I would say that collaborating on the design of the exhibition and catalogue for the show Art_Latin_America: Against the Survey, at the Davis Museum in Wellesley College, was a very holistic experience. I was a recent grad student starting to work with the design team at Stoltze Design in Boston, and this project felt like an extension of my MFA thesis work (Lingua Franca). It was connected to my identity as a Latin American female designer interested in the arts. I worked closely with James Oles, the curator of the show, and Lisa Fishman, the museum’s director, and was able to make nerdy graphic and typographic decisions related to the curatorial statement and rich content of the catalogue. I had the chance to work on every stage of the project, from concept to press, and was very gratifying to even meet some of the artists in the process.
What are you doing when you aren’t teaching? This year was intense as I taught five completely new courses. When I was not teaching, I was preparing all my classes, doing research. Moore allowed me to experience this year as a real full-time faculty, so I also did service work for the community. I worked on a hiring committee, and on collaborative projects like the branding and graphics for the fashion exhibition Black: Mourning to Celebration with the Fashion Department’s chair Nasheli Juliana Ortiz-González , Jane Likens '66 and Drew Likens.
During the fall semester I proposed a new program for SURGE (Student-Run Gallery), collaborated with faculty and staff in creating workshops for the students, and started having workshops early this spring semester. Sadly, because of the pandemic, we had to put it on hold for the rest of the semester. But the plan is that the project will keep its course once people are able to return to campus.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working? I like to exercise outdoors, spend time with my partner, friends and family, cook, read printed books and magazines, collect beautiful and exciting printed matter, visit galleries and museums.
What are your plans for the future? We are facing an uncertain future right now with the current pandemic, but I am certain about a couple things: I want to keep teaching and practicing art and graphic design.
I moved back to New England this spring—from where I have been teaching remotely—and plan to continue to work simultaneously between academia, professional, and commission-based work. Since mid-March I have been collaborating with artists and designers in Rhode Island on projects that range from editorial work, to projection/audio installations in downtown Providence, to sewing masks for hospitals and communities in need.