As is the complaint of every media consumer, news can often be so depressing. Rita Kovtun sought to change that with the theme of this year’s Minneapolis College of Art and Design Magazine: community engagement.
Kovtun works as the primary writer and editor for MCAD Magazine NEXT. Part of the scrappy two-person communications team, she writes articles and features, takes photographs, and creates postcards and other marketing materials for the college. “From conception to completion, NEXT takes a little over half a year. I’m still doing editing and marketing, so it’s definitely a big undertaking,” Kovtun said.
Though she often recruits students to help with the development of the magazine, she said former MCAD President Jay Coogan often helped suggest magazine themes to follow. According to Kovtun, previous years’ themes included purpose-driven education, scholarships, and programs and facilities. However, she said this particular issue held a special place for her.
“I think this was my favorite issue to work on because of the powerful stories I got to help tell around what MCAD students, alumni, faculty and staff are doing in terms of working together with outside communities,” she said. This year’s magazine included features on Jack Becker and John Davis, two alumni who pioneered public art and creative placemaking, Bethany Iverson, one of the founders of a new co-working space for women and non-binary folk in the North Loop area of Minneapolis, and Amanda Lovelee, the City Artist for Saint Paul Public Art who tries to increase diversity and participation in Saint Paul’s urban planning process.
The magazine also focuses heavily on showcasing the artistic abilities of students and alumni. For the past four years, the magazine has featured former or current students’ artwork in a fold out and on the cover. MCAD’s publication won three MMPA awards in 2017, including a Silver Award in Cover Design.
Kovtun said one of the challenges of working within a theme is being careful in telling the stories of students going in to improve communities. She said it was important not to focus solely on students’ perspectives but hear the voices of the communities in which they were involved to tell a more complete story.
“Obviously there’s a lot of challenges in the world, but [the magazine] is trying to offer a hopeful perspective to show people who are trying to solve these issues, and do it together and collaboratively,” Kovtun said. “We really try to emphasize that it’s a two-way street and an exchange that’s happening. We just show the amazing work the people who have come through MCAD are doing.”
Check out some of the community engagement of MCAD’s students and alumni in the Spring 2019 issue of NEXT.