Design this Better RISD

This speech was delivered by Nikki Juen at the Rhode Island School of Design Commencement Honorees Dinner upon Juen's receipt of the John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching.

#risdmuseum #risdlove #risd #wisdomlookson #risd #designeducation #designthisbetter #gatekeepers #designpedagogy #designthisbetterrisd #radicalchange #catalyst #adjunct #adjunctadvocacy #parttimefaculty #thelovelab


Moving on...

I am happy to announce that I will be joining the Feinstein School of Humanities, Arts and Education at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island as Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. I will be leaving my position at RISD as of June 30th.

I will also continue my role at Vermont College of Fine Arts as Faculty Co-Chair in the Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design Program.

I am more than grateful for my long relationship with the college; first as undergraduate student, later as senior staff designer, most recently as educator, and now I remain at RISD as a proud parent. My RISD life has been rich!

The saddest part will be how much I will miss my friends, colleagues, and especially my students. However it’s comforting to know that I’m just down Narragansett Bay at a university steeped in the legacy of Roger Williams because as he said, “The greatest crime is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world.”

To my dear RISD Experimental and Foundation Studies colleagues and beloved college staff, thank you for the many memories; being part of the BEST division at RISD will forever be one of my proudest achievements.

To my students, thank you so much for trusting me with your education; witnessing your engagement has been the greatest gift. If there is anything that stays with you from my studio classes, you do me the greatest honor by taking it into the world.

Much Love. xo


image courtesy of Roger Williams School of Law

image courtesy of Roger Williams School of Law


I’m pleased to announce that I have recently joined the full-time faculty at Rhode Island School of Design as an Assistant Professor for the 18/19 academic year. My term appointment will take place in the RISD Division of Experimental and Foundations Studies, where I have been teaching for the past decade.

I will also continue my role at Vermont College of Fine Arts as Faculty Co-Chair and Mentor in the Master of Fine Arts Graphic Design Program.

I’m thrilled about this opportunity and could not have hoped for better mentors along the way.

Video Installation by RISD student Elizabeth Mullaney GD '21

Video Installation by RISD student Elizabeth Mullaney GD '21


25th Anniversary issue of HERE Volume 2 a publication of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Visual Art Program. Edited by Danielle Dahline, Dont Rhine, and Fatih Wilding.

Cover of HERE 2 designed by  Silas Munro

Cover of HERE 2 designed by Silas Munro

Inside spread of HERE 2, collaboration with #othertallblond collective member,  Veronica Cross

Inside spread of HERE 2, collaboration with #othertallblond collective member, Veronica Cross


I’d like to make Rene Descartes do cartwheels across a pastoral ocean-side lawn at sunset. I’d like to watch his body tumble over his mind forever unseating the objective, scientific and brain-down thought that has dominated the production of knowledge for far too long.

Descartes-wheel decreed the body an unreliable receptor and favored mind over body forever separating the two. This constructed boundary between mind and body has defined knowledge as separate from the knower in various forms, and by various philosophers, for hundreds of years. From this perspective, the valuation of the objective materialism of knowledge is pitted against the intuitive knowing of individual subjects. The gut senses are at odds with empirical proofs.

THERE is the objective, the dominant hegemony of the academies, the privileged appraisal of the value of knowledge, the constructed scientific materialisms. HERE is the space of the individual, the personal memories and the ancient wisdoms. The subjective space of HERE is held in critical disregard in the academy and is in need of reorientation.

I recognize the movement between HERE and THERE as the space of productive frictions that elide. A charnel ground of potential between what is known and what is yet to be discovered. Views, beliefs, and dreams of an/other is a movement towards discovering what lies beyond what has been embedded in y/our bodies by histories, ideologies and biologies that may not support well being in the academy.

An educator dealing in absolutes is in a dangerous position. A position which assumes that bodies of knowledge are held in singular locations or solitary actions. In a studio classroom, knowledge rarely flows unidirectionally and learning becomes a social exchange. Can our practice as academic artists remove the binaric boundary between empirical and intuitive, qualitative and quantitative, here and there in favor of experiencing the sharing of knowledge through the boundary, with the boundary?

Could we consider the boundary an immaterial location? [Trinh T. Minh-ha]

Divergent objects and spaces can also be movements toward body oriented pedagogies [Oren Ergas] and the reclaiming of subjective experiences in the location, reclamation and production of knowledges.

The academy is exactly the place for the collisions of views and ideas. This collisional event is a clash or conflict and can also be an encounter between particles resulting in exchange or transformation of energy.

Being a teacher is being with people. [bell hooks]

My body will stay healthy in the academies it inhabits. I will say ‘no’ to locations that pull unilaterally here or there and instead inhabit the places my body longs for and is remembered in. The glades of sense, memories and archaic time.

–Nikki Juen
copyright © 2016


VCFA Lecture Resources: ME/WE/US/SHE™

Kimberle Crenshaw, 'Intersectional Feminism'
Carol Hanisch, ‘The Personal is Political’
Betty Saar: The Liberation of Aunt Jemima
Racial bias in film, video, commercialisms

The Female Complaint by Lauren Berlant
Women And Nature by Susan Griffin
Why I Am Not A Feminist by Jessa Crispin
The Witch Has A System by Trini Dalton
Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self by Susan O'Malley
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler

Jenna Blazevich
Elizabeth Duffy
Faith Wilding
Cauleen Smith
Patty Chang
Juen MFA thesis

NY MAG, 11 Female Art Professors and Teachers on Their Favorite Female Artists

“Designer, printmaker, artist, and educator Corita Kent has been a longtime inspiration and guide. Every time I drive by that natural gas tank just outside of the city of Boston, I feel a kinship and comfort in her exuberant stripes and colors. I have long enjoyed all the urban myths regarding various images that can be extracted from the paint strokes. I imagine Kent would have liked that, people looking deeply and intuiting messages beyond the surface. Her rules for students and educators are lighthearted but exactly on point and they serve as a foundation for my own teaching practices. Her work is bright, daring, and subversive.”
Nikki Juen, instructor and lecturer of experimental and foundation studies, RISD

AIGA Chicago Women Lead

Good evening from Morningstar Chicago! 3.8.2017

Good evening from Morningstar Chicago! 3.8.2017

Hello AIGA Chicago!

It's been a week since I was with you in Chicago and I haven't stopped thinking about your kindness, receptivity and thoughtful questions. Thank you for coming to listen to what Tereasa, Susan and I had to offer. I only regret that we didn't have more time together, there is so much to share towards living and thriving as a woman in the design fields.

To that end, I am sharing some of the authors and books that have been my guides, and at times, my irritants. Either way they have somehow stimulated my thinking and helped me find ways to inhabit my experiences. I hope you find some of them interesting and useful.

I loved your city and I can't wait to return, I hope to see you again in the near future.

Thanks again — Susan, Anya, Tereasa, Heather, Silvana, Morgan, Marissa and Mig. Such a pleasure me meet you all. 

xo, Nikki


The Argonauts
By Maggie Nelson