Creative renaissance Alumna helping produce Olympic ceremonies

Every four years, the world comes together for the Summer Olympics. 

Billions of people tune in to watch the opening ceremonies - the parade of countries, the lighting of the torch and, later this year, the work of a former OC art student.

Alumna Jennifer Ma (93) is the chief designer of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. She is part of the seven-person core creative team working to put together an event that will be seen by an estimated four billion people worldwide.

"We are now done with the creative process, which took almost two years, and are now in an implementation phase, with a mad dash towards the finish line," Jennifer said. "Only four months away!"

The Summer Olympics will be held from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24 in Beijing, China. For Jennifer, the event is more than an incredible opportunity; it's a homecoming. She was born in Beijing before moving to Oklahoma as a 13-year-old.

"The bottom line is to showcase the innovation of the Chinese people," Jennifer recently told Fast Company magazine. "Everyone wants to project a very modern image - one that will stun the world."

Jennifer now lives and works in New York City. Her latest project (besides her Olympic work) is now showing there as part of the Everything is Museum exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Her work also has been featured in venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tate Modern in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Her projects have appeared in Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and other mainstream and industry publications.

Though her talent and creativity are unquestioned, Jennifer is quick to say that she owes much of her success to OC's renowned art and design program, particularly professors Michael O'Keefe and David Crismon, who are both successful professionals in their own right.

"I'm doing more than I ever anticipated," Jennifer said. "Without OC, I wouldn't be doing this. It laid great foundations for my career."

by Wes McKinzie (98)