Designing Emancipation


PIERRE BOWINS

From the early 1830s to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in 1863, Boston was the center of the American anti-slavery movement. Organizations such as the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society posted broadsides throughout the city to publicize the day’s events and advocate for the freedom of slaves. These single-sheet notices were printed in large, bold lettering and often contained quotations from the Bible, the Constitution, and the founding fathers. These sources gave legitimacy to the movement and a significant visual record of Black freedom in the Antebellum Era.




RESOURCES


  BOOKS 


  • Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. by Simone Brown

  • Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. by Ruha Benjamin. 2019. 1 edition. Medford, MA: Polity.

  • Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life by Theodor Adorno. 1978. New York, Shocken Books.

  • Aesthetic Theory, Continuum by Theodor W. Adorno

  • Picturing Black New Orleans: A Creole Photographer's View of the Early Twentieth Century

  • Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble

  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff


  • Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African American Print

  • Drawn to Art: A Nineteenth-Century Dream

  • Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze

  • Capitalism - How to Use Graphic Design to Sell Things, Explain Things, Make

  • Things Look Better, Make People Laugh, Make People Cry, and (Every Once in a While) Change the World
  • The Politics of Design
  • In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays










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Black Queer Stories in Print:

19th Century to the Harlem Renaissance


JON KEY with SILAS MUNRO

In the 1830’s The Sun Newspaper ran a story never shared before in print: a man by day and woman by night who was on trial in New York for theft. Mary Jones/Peter Sewally was one of the earliest known public Transgender people. Her story was one of the first black queer narratives documented and shared in printed form in the early 19th century. A few decades later in 1880’s D.C. The Evening Star newspaper printed “The Queen is Raided” referring to William Dorsey Swann, the earliest Drag Queens in American history, lavish underground parties overturned by the police.  In 1925, Alain LeRoy Locke was asked to be guest editor of an issue of Survey Graphic, the richly designed periodical covering sociological and political issues. The issue, titled “Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro”, was Locke’s first publication connecting an emerging generation of young black writers, poets, and artists, in what would be known as the Harlem Renaissance. The infamous issue became the basis for the seminal 1925 anthology The New Negro, marking a shift from a focus on Black bodies to Black consciousness and Black thought.

The following year, a collective of young, black, and some queer artists would write, design, and self-publish FIRE!!, a publication devoted to younger Negro artists. FIRE!! was conceived and edited by Wallace Thurman with contributions from Langston Hughes, Bruce Nugent, Zora Neale Hurston, and Aaron Douglas. The magazine’s varied content contained diverse genres, including essay, design, illustration, plays, and poetry that addressed taboo subjects of the time such as interracial marriage, prostituiton and homosexuality. Tragically, the headquarters of FIRE!! burned down after the completion of the first issue, but not before its content made equally fiery controversy. In November 1928, Harlem: A Forum of Negro Life was published as a revivalof FIRE!!. This would be Thurman's last artistic publication journal. 




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Strikethrough:

Typography Messages of Protest for Civil Rights


COLETTE GAITER

In the 1960s and 1970s of this country, everyday activists took to the streets with placards in their raised arms with urgent messages made visible in typographic form.

This selection of protest graphics will focus on a Black experience. However, the Civil Rights movement represented and inspired diverse protest movements with wide-ranging socio-economic, racial, geographic, and class hierarchy origins. From Emory Douglas’ prolific body of Black Panther publications, countless graphics from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic “I AM A MAN” poster, many known and unknown makers used graphic design to advocate for Black equality.




RESOURCES



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  ARTICLES & LINKS 




I AM A MAN



ART & PROTEST

TYPOGRAPHY


  • How iconic typographic picket signs became our eternal cry for justice



POLITICS




BLACK PANTHER PARTY





INFRASTRUCTURE


RACE AND TECHNOLOGY
PRINT & PRESS








Funk, Blaxploitation, & Hip Hop Aesthetics


TASHEKA ARCENEAUX-SUTTON, PIERRE BOWINS WITH SILAS MUNRO


From the bass heavy riffs of Curtis Mayfield’s SuperFly 1973 soundtrack to the scratch and synthesized Brox rhythms of 1970s and 1980s DJ’s like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash—the histories of Black music and Black design have been intermixed.

Similarly in Film, the generative collaboration between Art Sims and Spike Lee that began with the posters such as Do The Right Thing, 1981 and New Jack City, 1991 lead to audiences literally breaking down bus shelters to collect the posters. This talk will dig through the crates to show the global influence of Black design.



RESOURCES



  BOOKS 



  • Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York by Craig Castleman

  • CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop by Vikki Tobak


   
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Behind and Ahead of the Times:

Histories and Futures of Black Futurity


LAUREN WILLIAMS

The Black experience(s) in the United States cannot easily be extracted from how we are collectively situated in time: it is shaped simultaneously by the weight of past and present oppressions and the precarity of our futures. White supremacy would have us believe that Black people are "behind the times" economically, socially, and otherwise; time shapes constructions of race and Blackness; our time is literally worth less than others' on the labor market; time is an instrument of carceral punishment; the time for justice is never now.

Still, Black folks—designers and non-designers alike—demonstrate an enduring commitment to constructing thriving, expansive Black futures. By troubling the definition of "design," this talk addresses Black futures of yesterday, today and tomorrow, radical imagination, and emergent strategies in Black design, whether acknowledged by the canon or not. From traditions in Black speculative futuring like afrofuturism, to the ubiquitous acts of future-building that Black Americans undertake on a daily basis, to the role of Black designers in mainstream industry, we'll explore the ways in which Black folks have troubled this liminal time-space we occupy through
design and explore the implications of that lineage for the future of Black design.



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BIPOC DESIGN HISTORY
Polymode 


Typeset in VTC William and Halyard
class@bipocdesignhistory.com

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