Kali Nikitas on Lorraine Wild

In 1986 my mother and I saw a presentation of graphic design from CalArts. It was my mother who encouraged me to look into their MFA program (insightful on her part).

Several months later, at the ICOGRADA conference in Amsterdam, I met Lorraine Wild. She was the CalArt's Design Director. Even though I was surrounded by Cranbrook grads, my conversations with Lorraine kept me interested and focused on her program. Following a visit in the fall of 1987, I applied, and was gratefully accepted.

Although intimidated by Lorraine, Laurie Haycock-Makela, Ed Fella, and Jeff Keedy (CalArts faculty), I was determined to make the kind of work that I saw coming from their students.

Once I started the program, I was asked to forget everything I had been taught up until that point. Imagine.

I was lost and confused most of my graduate career but also inspired and hopeful. I was one of the weakest students in the program (if not the weakest), the youngest, and the least intellectual. I was humbled all too often.

Lorraine continued to baffle me with her wit, confidence, commitment to design education, and talent. The only thing I could bring to our relationship was great admiration and a willingness to learn all that I could from her. That continues today.

I admire her for all that she has done and for her impact on design practice and design education. She has made an enormous difference in the lives of the women who have studied with her. What an honor for me to have been one of them.

Lorraine's legacy lives on for me, in the way I think, teach, design, and especially in the way I dress. She believed in me when I could not believe in myself. For that, I am truly grateful.

Kali Nikitas
Co-partner of graphic design for love (+$),
Chair of the Design Department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (through 6/04).