Kelly Salchow MacArthur
(517) 432-2297

B26 Kresge Art Center
600 Auditorium Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and Design

Graphic Design


Kelly received her Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with Honors from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design Magna Cum Laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Before joining the faculty at MSU, she was Program Head of Graphic Design and Assistant Professor at Kansas City Art Institute. Other previous teaching experiences include RISD and The College of New Jersey. 

Her concepts and design work have appeared in several publications, including SustainAble: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and Their Clients; Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work: An Explorative Guide to Making, Thinking, and Writing; Typography, Referenced: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to the Language, History, and Practice of Typography; Designing for the Greater Good: The Best in Cause-Related Marketing and Nonprofit Design; and Atomic Ranch Magazine. Kelly has presented at AIGA, European Academy of Design, International Institute for Information Design, International Design Principles and Practices, College Art Association, University College Designers Association, Foundations in Art: Theory & Education, and Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design conferences. She has guest lectured at several universities. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and selected by Graphis Poster Annual, Print, Creative Quarterly, GD USA, IIID, Emirates International Poster Festival, Type Directors Club, Society of Typographic Arts, American Alliance of Museums, United Designs, AIGA Kansas City, and AIGA Detroit competitions. In 2021 she was an Olympian Artist in Residence for the Olympic Agora in Tokyo, Japan. Her series of 5 Noren curtains celebrating peace, joy, hope, honor, and sport hung in the Nihonbashi neighborhood during the Olympic Games.

 She is President Emerita of the international design organization, United Designs Alliance. She is a member of the UCDA Design Educator’s Advisory Committee, and former member of CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property. Kelly initiated the AIGA Get Out The Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote poster initiative to commemorate 100 years of the women’s vote in 2020. She and Nancy Skolos partnered with AIGA and the League of Women Voters, creating a collection of 65 posters from 71 women in design, which was exhibited across the country and available for free download. The campaign not only supported voter participation, but also served as a backdrop for dialogue and examination of the history of voting rights and women’s fight for equality. She served as President of the Detroit Chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, 2009–2011—which followed five years of service as Education Director for the Detroit and Kansas City Chapters. 

 A two-time Olympian, she balances her passion for design and education with miles of rowing on the Huron River.

Artist Statement

My creative research primarily explores environmental issues through the integration of materiality, production technology, format and volume—as creative opportunities parallel to type and image in graphic design.

Capitalizing on the means and responsibilities of a visual communicator, I have taken varied approaches to environmental action (which is fundamental and urgent to the survival of humankind, as well as the ecosystems we impact and are a part of). Various strategies have been tested—humanistic appeals to reconnect one’s self with nature, alarming statistics meant to instigate response, logical calls to action, collaboration with a poet to visualize her environmental warning, partnership with an eco organization for community engagement, etc. Each communicative tone and perspective strives to create empathy and incite proaction towards humankind’s relationship with the natural world.

Informed by life and social sciences, and inspired by architecture and industrial design, my work often exploits volume to emphasize the message. The integration of surface, volume, and material has led me to investigate various production methods and technology. This inquiry-through-making explores (among many other things) visual/tactile interchange, planar/spatial relationships, and variation in communicative tone.

I aspire to demonstrate a span of alternatives—in creative, dimensional and environmental realms. Given the power of a message, I contribute to society through creative participation and the cultivation of our future design practitioners. When design is truly embraced, its essential lessons become a part of the way one lives and thinks.

Awards and Honors


GD 360 Graphic Design I
Graphic Form

GD 460 Graphic Design II
Visual Communication

GD 365 Typography I
Form & Meaning

GD 465 Typography II
Typographic Systems

GD 462 Spatial Design


“About Our Discipline Now: Design as a Catalyst for Change.” 2020 United Designs Alliance Annual, Korea: United Designs Alliance, 2020. p34–37.

“About Our Discipline Now: A Designer’s Responsibility.” 2019 United Designs Alliance Annual, Korea: United Designs Alliance, 2019. p26–29.

“Collaboration, Cooperation, Community: Outreach through Research and Teaching.” Dialog: AIGA Design Educator Community. MAKE Conference Proceedings, Indianapolis, IN, June 2018. Michigan Publishing: pgs.142–147. 

“Balancing Surface, Volume, and Materiality: Integrating Visual and Haptic Approaches into Graphic Design Processes to Enhance Audience Understanding and Emotional Response.” Dialectic, 2.2 (2019): pgs. 151–170. Published by the aiga Design Educators Community (dec) and Michigan Publishing. Summer 2019, Vol. 2, Issue 2. 

With Akari Kidd. “Happy Affects: Harnessing Chance and Uncertainty in Design Practice.” The Design Journal. Vol. 22, Issue sup1: Running with Scissors: 13th International Conference of the European Academy of Design, Dundee, 10–12th April 2019. Taylor & Francis. p1747-1760.


University News

Art, Art History, and Design Faculty Triennial Exhibit Runs Through July 21 at MSU Broad
Published February 5, 2024 in College of Arts & Letters
The works of 22 Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) faculty are now on display through July 21, 2024, at the MSU Broad Art Museum as part of an exhibition that highlights the diverse,…Read now »
MSU Professor and Olympian Part of Community Art Project Leading up to Paris 2024 Olympics
Published December 14, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
Three people look at an exhibit of photos and collages posted on a wall.
Michigan State University Professor and Olympian Kelly Salchow MacArthur is once again part of the Olympics, this time leading a community art project. Through the Olympian Artists program, an…Read now »
Graphic Design Professor Receives International Award for Voter Participation Campaign
Published June 21, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
Kelly Salchow MacArthur, Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at Michigan State University, is the 2023 recipient of the International Institute…Read now »
Professor and Two-Time Olympian Chosen as Artist-in-Residence for Tokyo Games
Published July 12, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
Kelly Salchow MacArthur grew up loving art. She also loved athletics. Some told her she couldn’t do both. Salchow MacArthur set out to prove she could. This determination led her down two…Read now »
Get Out the Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote
Published November 2, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters Get Out the Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote highlights how graphic design is used as a powerful tool in politics with poster…Read now »
Graphic Design Graduate Is a Business Owner and ADDY Award-Winner
Published April 27, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters
MSU senior Maddison Chaffer will graduate this May with a BFA in Graphic Design and already has a lot of professional experience working as a freelancer on various graphic design and…Read now »
Art Exhibit Upcycles Plastic Waste to Address Environmental Issues
Published November 4, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
art piece with cut out letters discussing the harm of plastic on top of recycled materials
An art installation by three MSU faculty members is helping bring awareness to the issues surrounding environmentally harmful plastics and our societal dependence on them. The…Read now »
100-Year Anniversary of Bauhaus Celebrated at MSU
Published October 22, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
two men sitting on the ground who are holding giant white plastic wrap and strings
The College of Arts & Letters and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities came together last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus, a famous art school…Read now »
Graphic Design Students Receive ADDY Awards
Published February 27, 2019 in College of Arts & Letters
Group of five students holding awards.
Six Graphic Design students, all seniors, received 2019 Mid-Michigan American Advertising (ADDY) Awards, including one Gold, three Silver, and one Bronze, honoring their outstanding work on…Read now »
Partnership Awarded for Raising Environmental Awareness
Published November 30, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
An initiative aimed at raising environmental awareness and engagement in Monroe, Michigan, that was born out of a collaboration with MSU’s College of Arts & Letters is now being recognized…Read now »
More than 50 Years of Graphic Design Expertise on Display
Published November 4, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
glass sign for the art exhibition
Popcorn bags, board games, scarves, posters and more – the MSU Union Art Gallery’s Women in Design exhibit is not to be missed. And on Friday, November 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. the newest…Read now »
Student Work on Permanent Display in East Lansing
Published April 27, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
2 women and 1 man pose in front of the finished mural
Two Department of Art, Art History, and Design students now have their artwork permanently displayed in downtown East Lansing as the winners of the MSUFCU (Michigan State University…Read now »
Best of Show: Students Earn Top Award at Mid-Michigan ADDYs
Published March 3, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
man in glasses and woman in scarf sit with podium displaying their collaborated design
Two Graphic Design students took home the top student prize at the Mid-Michigan American Advertising Awards (ADDYs). Department of Art, Art History, and Design students Malarie French and…Read now »
New Graphic Design Major Popular with Students
Published January 26, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
The MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) has rolled out a new Graphic Design undergraduate major this Spring 2016. To date, 42 students have enrolled in the new BFA program…Read now »