Nora Merecicky is an Ohio University alumna who has taken her skills from Ohio all the way to the West Coast. She is another great example of all the different types of opportunities an individual can have after getting a degree in the arts. Following graduation from Ohio University Nora has worked in museums, at a theater company, and now works as a creative and marketing recruiter.
First, please introduce yourself and give us some background information on who you are and what you do.
My name is Nora Merecicky and I am currently a creative and marketing recruiter at a staffing agency called Vitamin T, which is part of a larger agency called Aquent. I currently live in the Bay Area in California, but I’m originally from North Olmsted, Ohio. Growing up I was always a visual learner who was interested in art, in making things, and in making things look nice (I get it from my mom, who was a graphic designer too). I’ve always loved museums. I attended Ohio University from 2005-2009, earning a BFA in Graphic Design from the School of Art (which I believe is now called the School of Art + Design). After I graduated I did a couple of internships and fellowships: I was a museum education intern at the Museum of Northern Arizona for a summer, an opportunity I was connected to directly via my KMA mentors. After this I held a Graphic Design Fellowship for one year at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which afforded me the opportunity to move to California and learn the ins and outs of a nonprofit performing arts organization. I then got a job doing graphic design for a progressive communications agency called Fenton in San Francisco. Then I went back to Berkeley Rep as art director in their marketing department and was there for 6 years. In 2019 I decided to switch gears a little bit and go into recruiting for creative jobs; I had gained project management and coaching experience at Berkeley Rep and wanted to lean into these skills more. I’ve had quite the journey in my creative career, and it really all started at KMA!
When did you work at the Kennedy and what did you do during your time here? What was your area of study at the university and when did you graduate?
I worked at the Kennedy during my junior and senior years, so 2007-2009. It was a work/study job through the PACE program, and I worked closely with Sally Delgado and Lisa Quinn. My first year I was totally focused on graphic design for the museum’s promotional materials, exhibits, and education programs. My second year I split my time between graphic design and actually developing and conducting educational programs and guiding tours for groups visiting the museum. I had a blast and to this day I still feel this was one of my favorite jobs! I earned a BFA in Graphic Design at Ohio University’s School of Art and graduated in 2009.
What experiences have you had with the Kennedy Museum of Art? Do you have any favorite memories from your time at the museum?
Sally and Lisa invited me to travel with them to Zuni, New Mexico to conduct research and collect objects for the Art of the Zuni exhibition. This was an incredible experience for me, and a real honor to get to know the Zuni people and their community. Generally I loved my whole experience working at the Kennedy and really appreciated being given a variety of opportunities to explore my interests and skill sets there.
How would you describe your creative process? Alternatively, how would you describe your professional activities.
It took me a long time to figure out what my creative process was, but after attending art school and then getting out into the working world for several years I eventually recognized the importance of time, space, and research. In my time as Art Director at Berkeley Rep, it was my job to come up with an original image and typographic treatment that would serve as “key art” for each of their plays. This key art had to work in many sizes and shapes from posters and brochures to tiny digital ads to large billboards. I found the final result was most successful when I gave myself plenty of time and space to get away from the office, turn off email, and just immerse myself in the very act of looking at images, collecting them, and just letting it all marinate in my head. After a few days of this and some hand sketching, usually a decent concept for a poster image for a play would reveal itself to me. I’ve learned I don’t like to iterate, I prefer to spend more time looking, thinking, planning, and doing 1 or 2 versions of what I think will work. As a designer you then have to pitch your creative idea to other people who may be the gatekeepers to getting it out into the world, and that’s a whole different skill set that you cultivate over time in different work environments.
Nora Merecicky’s poster designs from her job at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Images courtesy of Nora Merecicky
Who/What inspires you?
Many things, and many people. My partner Simon inspires me every single day. He also has a degree in Graphic Design from OU, but we were not in the program at the same time and we met in California. He is a fantastic designer and illustrator and is always, ALWAYS creating. He gets so excited and inspired by all mediums of art and so many things in life beyond art, and I just find that contagious. Generally I’m inspired by kind people who are striving to do good things. I’m inspired by people who tell the truth, even if it’s hard to hear. As I grow older I become more inspired by other more scientific fields like neuroscience and ecology, things I was not as interested in when I was younger. I try to cultivate a practice of curiosity, and I find this serves me well in all aspects of my life.
Has living through a pandemic changed your career, creative processes or education?
I think it’s safe to say living through a pandemic has changed everything, and I always remind myself that we are all navigating these uncharted waters together. I am incredibly lucky to be able to do my job remotely, and so grateful that my job is essentially to help other creative people find employment. The field of recruiting is of course affected by the state of the national job market, and it’s been interesting to kind of ride this wave these past couple of years. I am optimistic that the national conversations sparked around what workers want and need will be sustained and that a healthier work culture will arise in our country. Outside of work I’ve been trying to prioritize self care and my mental health. My main creative activity these days is cross stitching. I enjoy the tactile materials involved, and how it ties back to many elements of graphic design – working off a grid, color selection, type selection, layout, and a little bit of math 🙂
In your experience what roles do museums play in their communities? How do you think the community benefits from the museum?
Museums, like many other types of creative institutions, are spaces where stories are told. Stories foster empathy for people who are different from us, or people who came before us. And empathy is a very powerful thing that makes the world better for all of us.
How have your experiences of working either with one or multiple academic museums helped you give back to your community?
My career started at a museum, so I am indebted to the Kennedy for giving me this foundation. I was able to actively participate and engage with visitors from the community during my time there, and now that I’m able I try to support museums and other community arts organizations as much as possible. Visit, volunteer, donate, subscribe, or just tell a friend about it – it’s on us to keep these organizations alive, especially right now.
What is your favorite object that is a part of a museum’s collection? Feel free to pick one from the Kennedy’s collection, a different collection, or both. Why?
During my time at the Kennedy, there was an exhibition about blues music that left a lasting impression on me. I became very immersed in blues music because of that exhibit, so much so that I asked for a harmonica for Christmas that year! I love all the photographs of blues and jazz musicians by Herman Leonard and Stanley Livingston.
(Left) Herman Leonard, Lucky Thompson – Royal Roost, 1948. Silver Gelatin Print. KMA 93.011.20. (Right) Stanley Livingston, Hound Dog Taylor, 1969/70. Inkjet Print. KMA 2012.01.26.
To learn more about the Kennedy Art Museum please check out our website at https://www.ohio.edu/museum. Here you can check out our collection and current exhibitions. To check out other blog posts go to https://kennedymuseum.blog. Finally, feel free to follow us on Instagram at @KennedyMuseumArtEdu or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KennedyMuseumofArt .
Tristen Luken, Academic Programs Assistant