Say 'YES'

By:
Sarah Beaudry, Vince Reddy photo

Margaret Kimball ’11 was on a high school Outward Bound trip from Connecticut to the Utah desert when she fell in love with its flora and fauna. When she started researching grad schools and found the UA’s MFA in visual communications, she happily headed to Tucson. 

“I loved the landscapes, sun, cactuses and the ability to go outside all the time,” says Kimball, who received an MFA in both visual communications and creative writing from the UA. She now is a professional illustrator known for her pattern work and a writer working on a graphic memoir. She rises at 4 a.m. to write into the early morning and spends the rest of the day drawing.

Margaret Kimball

“Both are ways of reflecting,” she says. “The memoir is about my life. I really like the slow, quiet process of the past and trying to articulate that. It’s similar with an image. I can look at 100 different images of the same kind of flower and then add my own interpretation.”

Kimball’s favorite project: a mural in Cleveland, part of a project to beautify the city leading up to the Republican National Convention in 2016. Her prompt was “White Paper,” a poem by Martha Collins about the many ways white people make excuses for institutional racism. 

The poem addresses comments like “Yes, but my daughter wouldn’t marry a black man,” Kimball says. 

In response to the poem, Kimball chose to feature the word “Yes.” 

“It represents inclusivity and welcomes people to Cleveland,” Kimball says. The mural is 17 feet high and 30 feet long. Kimball first illustrated “Yes” on an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper, then projected the drawing onto the wall to trace. 

Kimball also designed and published her first coloring book, “Birds and Botanicals Coloring Collection,” in 2016.