Ellen McMahon

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Ellen McMahon
Born 1951 (age 65–66)
Residence Arizona
Nationality American
Occupation Artist, illustrator, graphic designer
Title Professor of Visual Communication
Website "Ellen McMahon"

Ellen McMahon (born 1951), ia an artist and an associate professor of visual communications at the University of Arizona where she teaches design, typography, illustration, and design theory.[1]


McMahon attended Southern Oregon State College and in 1978 received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, she continued her education at the University of Arizona and earned her Master of Science degree in Scientific Illustration in 1983. Working in a wide variety of media McMahon continued her education at Vermont College and received a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art in 1996. Her artistic career has developed through careers in dance, field biology, scientific illustration and design.

Much of McMahon's work revolves around her role as a mother. She reflects upon her daily interactions with her daughters and notes her experiences of motherhood and the social and cultural ideals that are placed on her. She strives to change the mythology of being a mother and attempts to reflect a more realistic interpretation of the mother daughter relationship.[1]

McMahon is an artist, teacher and a writer. Her work has been featured in Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood, in an essay titled A Little Bit of Loss, AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, in an essay titled Outside the Cookie Cutter: Approaches to Teaching Graphic Design, Representations: Journal of the Design Communication Association, in an essay titled Exchanges: A collaborative Teaching Project, The Education of the Graphic Designer, edited by Steve Heller, in an essay titled Have Sign Will Travel: Cultural Issues in Design Education, and in the Longwood Arts Journal, a publication of the Longwood Arts Project,in an essay titled Maternity, Autonomy, Ambivalence and Loss.[2]

One of McMahon's work is an artist's book titled No New Work from 1993. This work was generated in response to a meeting where she and other faculty members of the University of Arizona were asked by the chairman to write down all of their accomplishments over the past year. McMahon had no professional accomplishments in the eyes of the chairman, she had just recently returned from her unpaid maternity leave where her accomplishments were personal, not professional.(Feminist Art and the Maternal): [3] After this uncomfortable meeting she chose to create a book that reflected ideas for a different social approach to women in a professional setting. Her book pays homage to Mary Kelly's Post-Partum Document: Documentation I, Analysed faecal stains and feeding charts. McMahon too uses diapers in her work, she creates handmade paper made from her daughters cloth diapers.

Group exhibitions[edit]

2002 –2004 “Rounce and Coffin Western Books Exhibition,” traveling to over thirty public and academic libraries over two years. Originating at Occidental College, Los Angeles

1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 “Arizona Biennial," Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona

1997, 1998, 2002 “Generations," A.I.R. Gallery, New York City

1998 “Cleavage: an exhibition on the breast,” Adams State College, Luther Bean Museum, Alamosa, Colorado (traveled to Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico Art Museum)

1998 “The Fragmented Body: Violence or Identity?” W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California

1998 “Low Land Horizon,” Cullity Gallery, Western Australia University School of Architecture and Fine Arts, Perth, Australia

1998 “Visual Arts Fellowship Recipients Exhibition,” Tucson/Pima Arts Council Gallery, Tucson, Arizona

1996 “Transforming the Mirror: Women in Photography,” Marshal/Reade Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts

1996 “International Photography and Digital Imaging Exhibition,” Wellington B. Gray Gallery, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

1996 “An Invitational Exhibition of U.S. Posters in Rzeszow," originating in Rzeszow Poland, venues to date: Rzeszow Art Gallery, Czestochowa Town Art Gallery, Krosno Art Gallery, Przemysl Center of Artbeen, and locations in Bydgoszcz and Zakopane, traveled to several locations in Hungry and Slovakia in 1998

1995 “Josten, McMahon, Penn,” three-person exhibition, funded by grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Tucson/Pima Arts Council, Dinnerware Artist’s Cooperative Gallery, Tucson, Arizona

1995 “Billboards for Democracy,” Hunter College, New York City

1995 “Deadly Responses: Murder and Suicide by Women,” Longwood Arts Project, a program of the Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx, New York

1995 “Public as Private,” Boulder City Arts Commission Gallery, Boulder, Colorado

1994 “The University and College Designers Association Annual Exhibition,” Minneapolis, Minnesota

1993 “It’s All Relative,” Galleria Mesa, Mesa, Arizona, Juror’s Award

1993 “Beyond Words,” Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, Illinois[2]

Solo Exhibits[edit]

2002 “Maternal Matter: Books, Cards and Drawings,” California State University, San Marcos, California

1997 “Redressing the Mother: Photographs, Text, and Objects,” A.I.R. Gallery II, New York City

1997 “Mama Do You Love Me,” an installation of objects, light, and sound, Icehouse Alternative Art Space, Phoenix, Arizona

1996 “Maternity, Autonomy, Ambivalence and Loss,” Wood Gallery, Vermont College of Norwich University, Montpelier, Vermont[2]


  1. ^ a b McMahon, Ellen. "Ellen McMahon biography". Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c McMahon, Ellen. "Ellen McMahon C.V". Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ Liss, Andrea, "Feminist Art and the Maternal", p. 70. University of Minnesota Press, 2009, 978-0-8166-4622-7.

External links[edit]