Black Design in America: A Series of Essential Courses, Now Open for Enrollment

Posted inDesign Inspiration
Thumbnail for Black Design in America: A Series of Essential Courses, Now Open for Enrollment

A clarion call that resounded more deeply than ever in 2020: the need for a new approach to design history education that goes beyond the usual, omissive Eurocentric narratives.

And now, Polymode is facilitating just that, in a series of vital classes that launch this week and run throughout the month—and are being recorded for on-demand viewing in the future.

When it comes to design education, there's no better person to be collaboratively organizing the series than Polymode founder Silas Munro, a CalArts MFA and RISD BFA grad who has lectured everywhere from his alma maters to RISD and the Yale School of Art. Moreover, Munro serves as an assistant professor in Communication Arts and MFA in Graphic Design at Otis College of Art and Design, and advisor and chair emeritus of the MFA Program in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The first installment in a larger series, Black Design in America “revisits and rewrites the course of design history in a way that centers previously marginalized designers, cultural figures—and particularly BIPOC and QTPOC people.”

As for how that takes shape, here is a brief overview of January’s offerings—individual sessions of which can be purchased for $5 to $30, on a sliding scale from students to professional designers—or from $30 to $250 for all the courses in a bundle.

Find out much more here.

(Curriculum design: Silas Munro, Pierre Bowins, Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton; instructional design: Brian Johnson, Silas Munro, Tanvi Sharma; course marketing and operations: Brian Johnson, Silas Munro, Tanvi Sharma; teaching assistant: Tanvi Sharma.)

Mbuti bark-cloth 'pongs; from deep in the Ituri Forest, Congo, c. mid 20th century

Afrikan Alphabets & African Diasporic Design Lineage, with Saki Mafundikwa

Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. (ET)

The Coon Town Chappie. The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America, 1901

Systems of Slavery and White Supremacy, with Kelly Walters

Jan. 9, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

“Outrage,” Feb. 2, 1837. Handbill. New York City, 1837. Library of Congress

Designing Emancipation, with Pierre Bowins

Jan. 10, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

The Georgia Negro Plate 2. Assessed value of household and kitchen furniture owned by Georgia Negroes. 1900 W.E.B. Du Bois and the Students of Atlanta University

Black Data: W.E.B. Du Bois and Data Visualization

Jan. 15, 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. (ET)

Front Cover of Fire!!, published in 1926, with artwork by Aaron Douglas. Harry Ransom Center

Wounded Fire: The New Negro and the Harlem Renaissance, with Jon Key

Jan. 16, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

Jacob Lawrence. Migration Series: In the North the Negro had better educational facilities. Panel 58

The Great Migration: Harlem Artists Guild and the 306 Group, with Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton

Jan. 17, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

Placard stating "I AM A MAN," carried by Arthur J. Schmidt in 1968 Memphis March

Strikethrough: Typography Messages of Protest for Civil Rights (free)

Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

The Negro Motorist Green Book, 1940 Edition, Victor Hugo Green

Black Streamlining: Discrimination, the Autom
obile Revolution and Black Americans, with
Omari Souza

Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. (ET)

Reid Miles, Blue Note Records album cover for Lee Morgan, The Rumproller, 1965

Blues Modernism: Midcentury Black Design in Chicago and New York, with Chris Dingwall

Jan. 23, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

Buddy Esquire, Kips Bay Boys Club, Feb. 13, 1982 flyer design, Cornell Hip Hop Collection

Funk, Blaxploitation & Hip Hop Aesthetics, with Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton

Jan. 24, 2 p.m.–4 p.m. (ET)

American Artist, Looted, 2020. WHITNEY.ORG

Black Design 2.0: Black Futures and Post-Internet Black Design, with Lauren Williams

Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. (ET)

Radical Design Pedagogy: Towards an Autochthonic Black Aesthetic for Graphic Design Pedagogy, with Audrey G. Bennett

Jan. 31, 3 p.m.–5 p.m. (ET)

Images and captions: BIPOC Design History