Letterform Archive – W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America

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W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America

W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America
with Silas Munro


Lecture at SFPL Main Library, Koret Auditorium
Tue, Oct 29, 2019
6:00pm–7:30pm PT

W. E. B. Du Bois was a prolific author, renowned sociologist, fierce civil rights advocate, co-founder of the NAACP, and a historian of black lives. He was also a pioneer in data visualization. Working with ink, gouache, graphite, and photographic prints, Du Bois and his student and alumni collaborators at Atlanta University generated crisp, dynamic, and modern graphics as a form of infographic activism. 63 brightly colored broadsheets were exhibited in Paris and made 20 years before the founding of the Bauhaus. These visualizations offer a prototype of design practices now vital in our contemporary world—of design for social innovation, data visualization in service to social justice, and the decolonization of pedagogy.

About Silas Munro

Silas Munro (He/They) is a partner of Polymode, a studio that leads the edge of contemporary graphic design through poetic research, learning experiences, and making cool shit for clients in the cultural sphere, innovative businesses, and community-based organizations, including The City of LA, Mark Bradford, MoMA, OCMA, and The New Museum. Munro’s writing appears in AIGA Eye on Design, Eye, Slanted, and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America. Munro is Founding Faculty and Chair Emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is working on a future Strikethrough exhibition and catalogue with Letterform Archive. @siborg81 @polymodestudio @bipocdesignhistory.

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