“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” —W.E.B. Du Bois
Silas Munro will elaborate on W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, a book of charts, graphs, and maps presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition by W.E.B. Du Bois, sociologist, historian and civil rights activist. The book examines “the color line,” which provides insight on a wide spectrum of American experience, post slavery.
The charts are fascinating as designs, objects of activism and as drawings utilizing color. In the introduction to the book, Munro writes, “Made a decade before the rise of dominant European avant-garde movements, these works predate modular design elements often considered to have their origins in Russian constructivism, De Stijl, and Italian futurism.” Munro will provide context about the exhibit and the charts, which provide new ways of interrogating color and anticipate contemporary practices of “design for social innovation, data visualization in service of social justice and the decolonization of pedagogy.”
Silas Munro holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from CalArts. He has earned a Design fellowship at the Walker Art Center, been a Designer-in-Residence at NC State, and Design Director at Housing Works. Munro’s design studio Poly-Mode has designed identities and publications for exhibitions of Jacob Lawrence at MoMA, Mark Bradford at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and a forthcoming commission, Great Force for the ICA at VCU in 2019. Munro’s writing appears in Slanted, the Walker Reader, and the book W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America published by Princeton Architectural Press. Munro has shown in juried group shows at CalArts and RISD. He has served as a critic at CalArts, MICA, VCU, and Yale School of Art. Munro is Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art and Design and Advisor and Chair Emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts.