Organizing the Production of Black Design
The cover of the August 1969 issue of Ebony declared the age of The Black Revolution. As a commodity, however, the issue of Ebony embodied the ethos of Black capitalism. The flagship publication of the Johnson Publishing Company, was the largest Black-owned company on planet earth in 1969. Reliant on ad sales from the likes of McDonalds and Newports, JPC augured a future for Black design as another market niche in the world of corporate capitalism.
The same year, a group of Chicago-based Black artists and craftspeople formed AfriCOBRA, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, as a way to build a grassroots, cooperative economy for disseminating Black design to everyday Black people autonomous from white-controlled markets.
This lecture surveys the contrasts as well as the connections between Johnson Publishing Company, and AfriCOBRA, as models for Black design production. While the corporation and the collective proposed different futures for the meaning and materiality of Black design, they emerged from and built upon the overlapping social networks of Black Chicago, mediating between the values of community and capitalism. This not only shaped their design work but also prepared the ground for future experiments in organizing Black design production today.
ARTICLES & LINKS
- Carceral Architectures by Mabel O. Wilson
- Reframing Blackness: The Installation Aesthetic of In Our Terribleness by Kinohi Nishikawa.
- To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice. Forum in Boston Review by Walter Johnson
- Mabel O. Wilson is Updating the Narrative of American Architecture to Include Black Architects by Kimberly Dowdell
- 2017 AIGA Medalist Emmett McBain
- Radical Repair: Log 48 in Conversation with Mabel O. Wilson
- Anything Can Happen by Danielle Aubert , Lorraine Perlman
- First Things First Manifesto by Ken Garland et al.
- Changing Design Education for the 21st Century by Michael W.Meyer, Don Norman
- How Alvin the Beagle Helped Usher In a Democratic Senate by Shane Goldmacher
- Tweet in this thread that’s about being apolitical as a software developer
ART & DESIGN
- AFRI-COBRA III exhibition catalog, 1973
- The issue of Black World (Oct 1970)
- Johnson Publishing Company
- The Art of Liberation: Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Artists in 1968
ART & DESIGN
- It Takes a Nation: Art for Social Justice with Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Party, AFRICOBRA, and Contemporary Washington Artists. Curated by Sandy Bellamy