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Magda Cordell McHale

"Society needs to know where it's been before it can know where its going"

-- Magda Cordell McHale

Magda Cordell McHale, artist and Professor Emerita in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning, has been an important contributor to UB since she first arrived in 1980. As co-founder of the Center for Integrative Studies, McHale researches the long-range consequences of social, cultural, and technological change on global societies.

McHale first rose to prominence as a painter in the 1950s in England. Along with her late husband, John McHale, she helped found the Independent Group, a London-based association of artists, critics, and architects fascinated with the advances in science, technology, and the mass media. Their work reflected a spirit of collaboration and inquiry.

In 1968, McHale and her husband established the Center for Integrative Studies (CIS) at the State University of New York at Binghamton. The Center was soon internationally-known for studying the "long-range social and cultural implication of change in society with a strong emphasis on global trends -- the international aspects of change (Milieu Magazine, 1979/1980)." Later in 1977, McHale's took the CIS to the University of Houston before moving it to the University at Buffalo in 1980.

In 2000, the School of Architecture and Planning created the McHale Fellowship, named in honor of Magda and John McHale. Bringing world-renown instructors to UB, the fellowship is intended to support design work that involves speculation on the impact of new technologies on architecture.

Today, Magda McHale is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and a past vice president of the World Futures Studies Federation. Her critically acclaimed artwork has been featured in both group and solo exhibitions in England and the United States throughout the past fifty years, most recently at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. Said one critic in 1959:

"Her representation of women is not concerned with traditional notions of the beauty of traditional cultural values. It is a fierce but controlled expression of the vital events and mysteries in the life of man; the mysteries to do with the role of the female, positive or negative, throughout the universe. The result may be monstrous and uncompromising, but in this age of corsets, cosmetics, automation, and celluloid sex, it might do us no harm to be shocked back into the realization that it is still latent in the human being a savage instinct, fecundity, and energy"

-- Freeman, The Human Image, 1959, p.7-8

Affiliation(s): Architecture and Planning
Record Group(s): 44
Biographical File Contains:
  • Obituary
  • Photographs