Mollie Johnson (American, b. 1997) is a graphic designer whose work explores design's complex position at the crosspoint of cultural, political, and economic landscapes. Johnson is studying, living, and working in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Working with analog and digital mediums, Johnson strives to merge virtual and physical spaces to make work that evolves over time and continues to develop as the viewer interacts with it, and as she progresses through adulthood.
Upon graduation in May, Johnson will hold her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Johnson plans to continue to work at Novalis Innovative Flooring in Dalton, Georgia on their marketing team as a designer. Her work will be on display in the 2022 BFA Senior Thesis Exhibition on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art at UTC from March 30-April 9, 2022.
Thank You, 2022
In a world where sustained innovation and constant creativity is profitable, and in a society where capitalism has a general disregard for the individual, there leaves little room for designers to be imperfect humans. As I enter the profession of design, I worry if there is a place for me to excel despite all of my flaws. I have battled mental illness, sometimes debilitating, for the past decade of my life. It is difficult to imagine that the working culture in the United States will drastically shift in my lifetime. My overall mental wellness, and my career, will inevitably be intertwined with the unforgiving demand of capitalism. I am bracing for that impact.
I have observed that graphic designers get caught up within the endless cycle of buyer and seller, and our income and livelihood depend on it. Similarly, the ever-living, fatally wasteful plastic bag exists as a bridge between the producer and the consumer. This designed object repeatedly and triumphantly thanks the customer for keeping the capitalist cycle going, despite its long-term side effects. Pieces of my own experience are voiced through the bags: from buzzwords said by interviewers and job listings to my most anxiety-inducing concerns about entering the design field. These words and phrases, of course, are drowned out by the sheer gratitude of getting to participate. The remnants of our collective working culture and camaraderie for idealizing mental exhaustion will outlive us all.