The author of a 30-year-old Print article on diversity, Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller, surveys the industry in our summer 2016 issue to see who is designing the solution to a problem that continues to this day. Here, we dig into the Print archives to share the articles that started the conversation. For more, visit www.printmag.com/summer-16
Black and White: A Portfolio of 40 Statements on a Single Theme
This, the fourth in a series of special issues in 1969 to commemorate PRINT’s 30th Anniversary Year, is surely one of the most unusual and provocative editions of PRINT ever published. The main editorial section consists entirely of a portfolio of full-page statements on a single theme—”Black and White”—by 40 designers, illustrators and photographers. All of the works shown, with one exception (Franklin McMahon’s drawing of Chicago ghetto pool), were created especially for this issue.
The “problem” posed to all the artists who participated was this: Make a statement on the theme “Black and White,” interpreting it in any way you choose. Your statement can be literal or symbolic, abstract or representational. Use whatever graphic techniques you wish. Your only restriction is that you must work in black and white—no color.
We naturally expected that most of the statements would deal directly and urgently with the racial question—and the majority of them do. It is interesting, however, that even those pieces which do not relate specifically to this issue seem to comment on it. Partly this is due to the context they are in; but partly also to the fact that even the “purest,” least socially conscious design statement, if its theme is “Black and White,” must deal with relationships between opposing elements, must deal with polarization—hence must deal, however unwittingly, with the precise question of black man vs. white man, U.S.A., circa 1969.
Several of the artists represented here mentioned to us that the project was much more difficult than they had originally anticipated. Apparently the “Black and White” theme was one that cut deep, bringing to the fore a welter of troubling emotions, and resolving these emotions, expressing them in some sort of unified, coherent way, took more time and thought than they had bargained for.
To those who participated in “Black and White,” we wish to express our most sincere thanks. The cumulative impact of their wide-ranging interpretations will be, we hope, a strong and lasting one.