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Archana Shekara

Professor of Graphic Design
Wonsook Kim School of Art
Center for the Visual Arts - CVA 212C
Office Hours
M : 4 to 5pm
Other days by appointment.
  • About
  • Education
  • Awards & Honors
  • Research


Archana Shekara is a Professor of Graphic Design, Co-Director of Ethnic Studies Program, and Creative Director of Design Streak Studio, a research based social innovation lab focusing on human centered service design at Illinois State University. She is the Coordinator of the Graphic Design partnership with Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University and Tianhua College of Art + Design at Shanghai Normal University.

Shekara has twenty-six years of professional experience designing for diverse industry clients. She uses design as a tool to build cross-cultural understanding, humility, acceptance, and respect. As a socio-cultural researcher, she has been investigating transnational identity by understanding racial equity through a brown lens and and creates cultural awareness using auto-ethnographic narratives. Shekara’s innovative teaching methodologies and research have been featured in peer reviewed national and international academic and professional publications, and conferences including Association Typographique Internationale (AtypI), Typography Day, Digitally Engaged Learning (DEL), MODE Summit, College Art Association (CAA), Society of Experiential Design (SEGD), Electronic Visualization and the Arts (EVA) London, Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), AIGA Design Educators Conference, and UCDA Design Educators Summit. She has reviewed several graphic design tenure and promotion dossiers from various universities, and conducts community building workshops based on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has served as a graduate thesis advisor for Heron School of Art and Design at Indianapolis. She recently started the national South Asian American Design Educators Alliance to bring South Asian American perspectives into mainstream conversations in Design

Shekara received an MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BFA in Painting from the State University of New York in New Paltz. She joined the faculty at Illinois State as an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the fall of 2009. Shekara received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Graphic Design in 2015, and promotion to full Professor of Graphic Design in 2022.

Area(s) of Specialization:
Typography, Branding, Human/Equity-Centered Service Design, Publication Design, Packaging Design, Experience Design and Motion Graphics

Current Courses

396.001Design Streak Studio

398.001Professional Practice: Internship In Design

315.001Topics In Graphic Design

287.001Independent Study

351.001Special Projects: Graphic Design

Teaching Interests & Areas

Human Centered Service Design, Cultural Identity and Heritage, Cross-Cultural Awareness, Diversity and Multiculturalism, Service Learning, Social Justice

Research Interests & Areas

Cultural Heritage, Diversity and Multiculturalism in the Classroom, Intersectionality, Transnational Identity, Racial Equity, Social Justice, Community Engagement

MFA Graphic Design

University of Illinois

BFA Painting, Drawing

State University of New York
New Paltz

Star Award

Division of Student Affairs, Illinois State University

Outstanding Woman in Communications Crystal Award

Association of Women in Communication (AWC), Bloomington-Normal

DECALOG, June 2020

AIGA Newsletter of the Design Educator’s Community

Redbird Impact magazine

Illinois State Universty

The World After Poster Call

Poster Territory (Design for Change), and DMJ Studio

MLK Champion Award

City of Bloomington and Town of Normal Human Relations Commission

Redbird Proud Award

University Marketing & Communications, Illinois State university

Arts and Culture Grant

Illinois Prairie Community Foundation

College Service Initiative Award

Illinois State University

The Reggies, 12th Annual Academic Excellence Awards

State Farm, and Illinois State University

Conference Proceeding

Shekara, A., Fostering a New Generation of Equity-Centered Designers, Communication + Place/ Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Academic Summit. (2021)
Shekara, A. Designing From the Heart: Case Study to Foster a New Generation of Socially Responsive Designers. Pamela Napier (Editor), Aaron Ganci (Editor) (EDs). MAKE: DIALOGUE/AIGA (2019)
Bahmani, L., Shekara, A., Sungkajun, A. (2021) Finding Rhythm Amidst Disruption: Reconnecting through Cultural Translations of Time and Motion. MODE: Motion Design Education Summit. 8 pages.


Design Educators Community: Mental Health Amidst Constant Evaluation. 2023 AIGA National Conference. AIGA. (2023)
Designing Pauses for Self-Reflection: Understanding oneself to understand, appreciate and respect the other. One Designer, One Work. AIGA. (2022)
Food for Thought : Understanding Cultural Identity and Heritage Through Cuisine. SECAC 2022, 78th annual SECAC Conference. Maryland Institute College of Art. (2022)
Individualized Marginalization — Redefining Brownness : Polished | Unpolished: Addressing Disparities Through a Brown Cultural Lens. Evolving Graphic Design Symposium. University of Wisconsin, Madison. (2022)
Seeking Allyship to Redefine Agency for International Faculty and Student Success. Agency, UCDA Design Education Summit, National University and College Designers Association. East Tennessee State University. (2022)
WHO’S at the TABLE? Experiences of Local Im/migrant Communities and the Making of the Breaking Bread in McLean County Web Series. 24th Annual Conference on Illinois History. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. (2022)
2021 re- UCDA Design Education Summit, National University and College Designers Association
Paper:– Readdressing Graphic Design Curriculum to Include Multicultural Perspectives
2021 108th Annual Conference, College Arts Association (CAA), New York, NY
Panel:– Social Exclusion in New Media Art/Design: Individualized marginalization
Paper presentation:– Individualized Marginalization — Redefining Brownness
2021 Electronic Visualization and the Arts, EVA London Conference, London, England
Paper:– Finding Rhythm Amidst Disruption: Visualizing Translations of Time
Co-authored with Professor Ladan Bahmani and Professor Annie Sungkajun
2021 Pre/Post/Ness, DesignInquiry, Design Residency, Vinalhaven, Maine
An international organization for experimental graphic design research
Participatory Design:– Annam: Designing experiences and seeking community by sharing rice

Grants & Contracts

Harold K. Sage Fund. Office of the Provost. Illinois State University. (2021)