Yale Library’s digital designer Monica Ong Reed named a 2024 USA Fellow

  • Woman with short dark hair and dark green blouse and long earrings looks at camera. To her left are shelves that display artwork. One reads "Planetaria by Monica Ong"
January 29, 2024

Monica Ong Reed, the library’s senior web and digital designer, is among the 50 artists nationwide who have been awarded a 2024 United States Artists (USA) Fellowship. Individual and group artists from 10 creative disciplines were recognized for their cultural contributions to the country.

Reed, an artist and poet, was the only fellowship recipient this year in the category of visual poetry. Her work brings together visual arts and the written word with themes that celebrate ancestry, culture, gender, and identity. Her projects include artist’s books, literary objects, fine press broadsides, star finders, and other playful interactive pieces. 

Reed defines a visual poem as “a work in which the lyrical composition and the visual elements work together syntactically to create the meaning in the poem. They don’t echo one another, like a caption or an illustration would, but they both contribute to a poem’s content, structure, and meaning.”

Reed trained at the Rhode Island School of Design before coming to the School of Music in 2007, where she led design initiatives in web and mobile publishing. She was the user experience designer for Yale Library’s Digital Humanities Lab from 2016 to 2022, when she joined the library’s communications team.

“By integrating design thinking into the production of visual poetry,” Reed said, “I am able to question the conventions of reading, model new publishing futures, and reimagine what poetry can be.”

USA Fellows are chosen for their roles within their communities as cultural leaders, teachers, and advocates. “Their practices uncover marginalized histories, reimagine archives, blur genres, and chart new paths,” the organization stated in the award announcement.

In addition to an unrestricted cash award, USA Fellows will have access to an array of services, including strategic financial planning, tax advising, and grant-writing support.

“We are thrilled to support a group of artists who, in their diverse approaches and contexts, offer invaluable modes of healing, expression, and collaboration,” wrote Judilee Reed, president and chief executive officer of United States Artists.

The USA Fellowship program launched in 2006. Previous recipients include poet Claudia Rankine, writer Teju Cole, and visual artist Howardena Pindell. Artists are nominated by a rotating committee of arts professionals from across the United States.

Reed is also the author of Silent Anatomies, a book of image-poems about culture, race, and medicine, published by Kore Press Institute in 2015 and winner of the press’s first book award in poetry. Her work has also appeared in Seneca Review, Asian American Literary Review, Drunken Boat, and several other literary journals. Several of her prints and an artist’s book are in the collection of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

This spring, Reed will be featured in Connecticut Public Television’s “Where ART Thou,” hosted by Ray Hardman. This summer, her exhibition, “Nocturne: Insomnia and Other Poems,” will open at ArtWRKD gallery in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

Read more about Reed’s 2022 exhibition, “Planetaria,” in Yale News. View her Poetry Foundation interview and introduction to the exhibition.

—Deborah Cannarella

Photo by Maler Photography