by Carmen Amengual
Unseen in the Archives: Inclusion and Omission in “Inside Out and Upside Down, Posters from CalArts 1970-2019”
In September 2020, the Gallery at REDCAT celebrated the virtual launch of Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970–2019 with a conversation between exhibition curator and CalArts graphic design faculty Michael Worthington and co-organizers and CalArts alumni Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton and Silas Munro. The talk was moderated by Carmen Amengual, REDCAT Gallery Assistant Curator. This was the first of a series of conversations that critically addressed the exhibition in relation to issues of inclusion and representation in the field of graphic design and graphic design education. The following is an edited transcript of the public conversation held on Zoom on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Carmen Amengual: Welcome to REDCAT everyone, I am Carmen Amengual, Assistant Curator at the Gallery at REDCAT. Thank you for joining us tonight for the conversation “Unseen in the Archives: Inclusion and Omission in ‘Inside Out and Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970-2019,'” an exhibition curated by Michael Worthington in collaboration with Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton and Silas Munro.
The title of this talk, Unseen in the Archives, points directly to the nature of the archive as a structure that gives visibility and in doing that, creates its own shadow or negative space: the space of the unseen.
The exhibition, which can be experienced virtually, shows over 300 posters organized in different sections: the REDCAT posters, a selection of the Machine Project posters, and some theme specific posters placed in wood structures, all surrounded by the three walls of the gallery. On the walls of the gallery you see a timeline that starts in 1970 and goes all the way to 2019. I am interested in starting this talk by thinking about the temporalities that are present in this space: in the timeline, the posters that once functioned as invitations to different events at CalArts are now frozen in the temporality of the archive, illustrating their own history and the history of the institution. Running parallel to the timeline, but also in between, is a wall text installation created by the Tasheka and Silas, which re-contextualizes the archive in the broader context of the social and of our very troubled present, a present that is in fact impossible to contain.
So, my first question is for Michael actually. I would like to know how the exhibition ended up having such an interesting and provocative configuration.
Michael Worthington: The exhibition is an extension of the archive. There was a three-year plan to, basically, house the archive online, house the archive physically, produce a publication about the posters in the archive, and the last component of that was to create an exhibition. You know, pre-Covid. I was working with a group of MFA students at CalArts, so we were selecting the work, designing the exhibition and working on the various components of it. It was all fairly well figured out until a few weeks before the show when we were due to start installing, everything got shut down. And during the time when the show was postponed and everything was shut, one of the projects that I worked on was an online art space for CalArts called thurs.night. Halfway through, the curator of that space, Madeline Falcone, decided it would be really important to open that space up to other voices, given what was happening with Black Lives Matter and the increasing visibility, vocalization, and necessity with those issues. And the solution that she came up with was to actually just hand the space over to the Black Arts Collective and allow somebody else to populate it and talk about those issues that were important to them.
During that time in that online space I reconnected with Tasheka, who was in an online drawing workshop, and Silas as well. And at the same time, I was talking with REDCAT about what we should do with the show since it was postponed. We wanted to figure out how that might work. And in talking with you, Carmen, and Joao Ribas and Edgar Miramontes, what became clear was that there was a radically different context from when the show was conceived to when the show would actually be visible to the public. We felt that it couldn’t be ignored in a way and that it just re-contextualized what we were doing and made us reconsider it. And I think that model from thurs.night became really important. And so, I asked Silas and Tasheka to work on a critical response to the exhibition.
To begin with, we discussed a number of different ideas. One of the things that was interesting, when I worked on designing the exhibition with a group of CalArts students, I was thinking of something we could do with the timeline which stretches from the beginning of CalArts in 1970 all the way up to 2019. Those posters are hung in two rows with a space in the middle. And we’d never really figured out what that additional narrative might be that would work within that space. And that was one of the areas that Tasheka and Silas identified as a space to work with in.
CA: Silas and Tasheka, what was your thought process when conceiving your response to the exhibition?
Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton: For me, I felt like the way that was easiest to sort of get into it was to just reflect on my time at CalArts. And so that became obviously a very personal experience. I thought about the work that I did there, because most of the projects that I did had to do with Black culture and identity, they had to do with the research I did trying to discover influential Black graphic designers. And so all that just made sense for me to address — my actual experience of being a Black student in a program there.
CA: The essay that you wrote is very personal. Can you describe the experience of being the only Black student during your first year of the MFA? And how during the second and third year, there were some other Black students that were accepted into the program. You said in your essay something about how even when that happened, you never talked about being Black in this program, you never talked about blackness. What do you think are the conditions necessary to generate those conversations?
TA-S: I think in general that the graphic design program tends to be very isolated from the rest of the school. And the program, it’s very intense. For the most part, and I know for me personally, it had a lot to do with just being focused on what I was doing. And honestly, I think at the time I felt that perhaps I was the only one that was feeling this way, so it didn’t really seem like there was a need to go talk to anybody. Maybe I’m just the only one that’s felt that way. Maybe everybody else is fine, you know? But when I think about how this actual intervention started, it had a lot to do with what was going on. Maybe if there was something, some conversation that was already going on in the school, that would have perhaps created some space — maybe if there was a Black design club or something like that… The program is really intense and so I didn’t even think about it, you know? I guess if something would have actually happened. I’m not saying I never had any type of racial incidents, but I think if there was something going on, then that would have perhaps created a condition or a space to have that conversation. What about you Silas, any thoughts?
Silas Munro: Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts as well. I echo what you’re saying about the intensity of the program — sort of like tunnel vision that the rigor requires. And it’s interesting because Tasheka, you were one of the reasons I ended up coming to CalArts. We connected during the visiting day when I was there. And in my essay I talk about this, I was living on the East Coast at the time and had a crazy early flight. I remember actually falling asleep behind your desk and then once I came to the program we ended up sitting next to each other. There was something about the way that you and Jessica Delana were talking about your work that had this sense of specificity about your experience, your identity, your mode of working as a designer. That was coupled at the same time with an interview I had at another school on the East Coast, and the essay also talks about this.
I was stopped and frisked in New Haven by police during a visit because I was seen as a suspicious person. And so I think when Michael and you and I reconnected virtually through the events that CalArts was hosting, all these memories of that sort of inaccessibility came back — feelings of the program and accessibility of CalArts, but then also this loss where we were right next to each other but never really talked about being Black designers and what that meant, especially the few of us that were there … we had other Black designers and other programs by that time, both in the BFA and MFA program. And I think part of this was also like, why the two of us to do this? There is a hesitance and question mark about tokenism, but at the same time it felt like it was an opportunity to speak about our experience as a way to connect to community and the ideas for the intervention. We wrote things individually and installed them physically in the space, but our response was always collective. The idea of, if we could go back in time and have new conversations and/or invite different black designers to CalArts, what would that look like? And so a huge part of the intervention is the space but it’s also the dialogue, the discourse, like these salons and this conversation right now.
MW: Silas, do you think part of it is about more awareness of systemic and institutional racism, whereas at that time, 10 years ago, we were thinking about those things on an individual and personal level? It’s just interesting to think about. I mean, you make your work as an individual or a person but then it also ends up being in the archive. And then it represents you as well. So there’s a connection between who you are and the work you make and the things that get left behind as well.
SM: Yeah, I think that’s true. There wasn’t a sort of collective awareness about systemic racism and all the kinds of challenges that we’re facing, including with the pandemic. I think that’s also connected to one of the assets we get in the CalArts program; it’s how to operate as an individual within these systems. So I think there is a focus on one’s own position. There are also collaborations, actually. The posters are one of them. There is actual dialogue and exchange quite a bit through the course of study. It’s very common for more than one designer to work on one of those pieces. So I think when you’re working in those, they’re sort of devoid of the criticality you normally think of. When we work on something together, we weren’t bringing that agenda — like, let’s address a systemic problem. It was more about like, let’s make something really beautiful and unexpected and in a moment.
CA: That makes me think of something in the essay you wrote, Silas — “Unseen Objects.” A point that your essay touches is sort of the legacy of graphic design as a discipline that doesn’t allow itself to be transformed by the social sphere. You talk about “the handshake of American-European high modernism” and this idea of autonomy. I’m thinking that your essay asks the question of: how do we change the discipline? How do we change, not only the institutions, but this dragging of systemic racism and exclusionary ways of thinking that are inside the disciplines themselves? Also, in your essay you collage scenes that go from the macro and the systemic to very specific personal situations. So you’re linking or bridging the sense of self and subjectivity with broader systems and the discipline of graphic design as well. I remember that phrase where you say, “imagine a world in which Paul Rand was Black.” Can you talk a little bit about that?
SM: Yeah, sure. I feel like this might be a good time to read part of that passage. The passage that I was going to read doesn’t have the Paul Rand part, but it does speak to European American high modernism. And it does have that kind of macro-micro part in it. And then I can expand on what you’re asking.
Black is the color of the pigment in the Plaka imported from Switzerland. It’s also the melanin in the skin of W.E.B DuBois. Black is a swatch of enamel painted on the steel frame of the Eames house. Black is a tint that’s not printed in the history books of graphic design. Except for a token here or there, an inadequate symbolic gesture of acknowledgment. A drop of color in the asterisk in the footnotes of the index of your archive. Black is the color of bodies brutally murdered in cold blood, for all to witness. Murdered by those who are supposed to protect us. Bodies like mine. Faces like mine.
And here you come to ask me to educate you on fragility management — triage because you can’t seem to grasp my own rage that you try to manage. Charge me with the responsibility of the plantation, but pay me only wages to pick the cotton. Ask me to earn the accolades that your cronies have preselected or, more likely, rejected by the not-so-secret handshake that says European-American High Modernism.
Reading that again, I’m really thinking about the gaps and what’s missing in the discipline. I think of the paradox of wanting to change that or making attempts to change that. I think to Michael’s point about individuality, there’s this responsibility — Tasheka, you probably share this — where you feel like you need to move the needle yourself or you feel responsible. And then also you feel wholly inadequate or unequipped to really do the change that’s needed, which is really a collective effort.
MW: I think it goes back to Carmen’s comments. I think the reason why you feel that burden is because there are so few visible Black graphic designers. So it does put that burden on you. Because you can’t push it off and say, well, somebody else is going to do this because there aren’t that many other people. And the only way that is going to change is by having role models, by having these discussions, by actually trying to point out the inadequacies of the profession. In a way it is a burden, but it’s also kind of an unavoidable one.
One thing I was thinking about is how the archive shows what’s missing. I think when we look at the archives, you can look at it and go, OK, well, there’s a fairly good balance between, say, male and female designers. But if you look, there are not a lot of Latinx designers, there are not a lot of Black designers, but we can’t go back and fix that in time. You can’t magically put that into an archive because it wasn’t there. There were only a few students. So what that implies by looking at the archive is how do we fix the system. It’s actually the system that will then have an impact back on the future archive.
TA-S: I think that’s why even if you don’t want to be the token, even if you don’t want to be the face of Black graphic designers, for a moment you kind of have to be to a certain degree. Because it’s better to acknowledge that and make yourself known and make Black voices known as opposed to hiding behind it and saying, I just want to be known for being a good designer — which is true and I think most people of color want to be known for their skill set … But when it comes to this I have to acknowledge and embrace that I am a black woman and I am a designer as opposed to sort of making that invisible or not acknowledging it. Because like what Michael said, you don’t have that many out there. So somebody has to be known, somebody has to speak up, somebody has to be the one. But it’s also that pressure of being the first one, the only one, there is that burden that you carry.
CA: You talk about the necessity of having role models and the lack of role models in your essay. I don’t know if you want to read that final paragraph?
To those five Black students, I regret not asking them if they shared the same feelings of isolation and lack of confidence as I did. If they exhibited insecurities that negatively affected their work. I never asked them if they ever felt embarrassed or frustrated by not being able to name one Black person who had made a significant contribution to the graphic design canon. I never asked them if the lack of role models left them feeling trapped in a strategy of imitating an aesthetic of people who were culturally, socially, and economically different from them. Maybe they didn’t feel trapped in that way — but I did. I always felt good and confident in my knowledge about Black history, Black culture, and Black identity. I struggled to find my voice. Not knowing or having any knowledge about Black graphic designers left me feeling voiceless.
I think the reason why I didn’t reach out to Silas, who came into the program a year after me, and the reason I didn’t reach out to Cameron Ewing, who became one of my classmates my second year, is because there was sort of this sense of embarrassment. To be honest, I was so confident in my knowledge in all of the areas of Black history and Black culture, and well versed in Black literature, I felt good about my identity. But it was embarrassing for me too, once it became a reality that I did not know any Black people in the history of graphic design. You didn’t learn about it. I didn’t read about it. And I think maybe somewhere I thought that some people or somebody else knew something that I didn’t. So I think it was embarrassing to maybe admit that. And then being at CalArts, you think you’re at this private arts school and you’re surrounded by all these really smart and talented people and so to admit that you didn’t know something about your own — it’s not something you want to admit, because you’re among the best and the brightest in the field and you don’t want to start to show that type of vulnerability, to be honest.
SM: Yeah, it’s a shock to the system, right? Because there is such an evolution — skill and knowledge acquisition, skill development, and all these other areas — but then you kind of realize your own lineage … it’s either erased or you don’t know it. How do you not know yourself? It’s what I feel like so much of the pedagogy of CalArts was like — self-actualization, self-alignment, and the idiosyncratic understanding of one’s self. So it’s like you don’t have a mother’s tongue or something like that.
CA: Well, I think that’s something that we are coming to understand now, the power of institutions and how institutions get ingrained in our subjectivity and shape our sense of self and who we are. It’s very, very confusing. And I think that having these conversations is fundamental in starting to understand those dynamics.
I wanted to ask both of you how the decision-making process of moving from the essays to the wall text installation in the gallery was? How did you guys work together in using your essays as materials for the installation?
TA-S: Well, we started, obviously, with conversations, right? And I think because of what I just read in my essay, despite the fact that I saw this and I never addressed it — like, we never had this dialogue, we never had this conversation. We never addressed, you know, anything dealing with being Black in this field, in this particular profession. And so I know the one thing that we talked about wanting to do was, although we both worked on essays individually, we did want to create something where the essays were not only talking and speaking to the dialogue, but were also speaking and having a dialogue with each other.
SM: Yeah, I feel like that was such a gift. I mean, Tasheka and I had the good fortune of being colleagues at UCFA. When I was a chair, she was one of the faculty that I asked to join there. And I actually still have chills thinking about your presentation there, which was centered around the research you were doing and asking that question, where’s the Black graphic design? Where is it? Which is the question we keep asking. I knew you were doing that research, but it blew my mind just how that really moved people. What was that, Tasheka, 2011? I think that coming back together again and thinking about how the text would live in this space together, we wanted there to be the typographic visual expression of a dialogue. It also felt like we gave each other permission.
Tasheka, typical to form, started writing first and sent me her draft. It kind of came together full form because I think you had that sort of language down already in your writing and suddenly something came out of me and I wrote and sent a partial version to Tasheka late at night, and she was just basically saying ‘keep going, keep going.’ And so that exchange translated into the design. We’re both responding. We both chose a type from Joshua Darden. He’s one of the few Black type designers, but that’s changing now. But that was a critical point and there was a lot of passing it back and forth.
TA-S: As far as the process, I think how we started with the designs was after the timeline was finished. We saw this and realized that how we started that kind of works with our personality and just our regular process of designing. So I started first, where I just went in there and I talked with the first two walls and then Silas being more of a finisher and a finesser, he said he has a hard time getting started. So he went back in and then there were moments where because we had a separate file, it was just interesting to see. There are parts and certain words and things that maybe he said that I wanted to highlight and bring to the forefront. But then maybe I silenced my voice a little bit, but then he went back into it and there were certain parts of my essay that he really liked and wanted to highlight. So it was really a true collaboration and back and forth.
MW: I think there’s also something really nice about the fact that the text is put into a visual form and broken up into sections, so it becomes very much like a discussion between the two of you. But there’s also slippage at times where you don’t know whose voice is whose. And then the text is always re-contextualized by whatever posters are sitting alongside it through this different timeline. And for me, the overall effect of it ends up being of Tasheka talking about these very personal issues at this time, and Silas addressing these more global issues. But when you view them alongside the timeline, it feels like, well, it hasn’t really changed. It probably hasn’t changed since 1970. And I think that’s a kind of overall commentary on not just the archive — on private design education with the expenses that are connected to that. I felt like that’s something that makes a more powerful overall point.
TA-S: Yeah. I agree.
SM: I agree with that, too — these sort of cycles of time that we’re experiencing and the repetitiveness of it and that frustration. Also, re-exertion and pain, just like the emotions of it, which I think all of us were carrying. One thing that I did want to speak to was also the dialogue between Tasheka and I and Michael and Carmen and, actually starting to put our language in that space. Being alumni and knowing some of the designers that had made some of the posters, whether we were in school with them or they were an influence or certain posters that we had in the archive that had a mythos to them, I think there was this tension. Between the anger and frustration talking back to this context, but then also feeling like family in a way. And this interesting exchange of both collaborating, but also having this mentorship history.
MW: You’re allowed to be lovingly critical. You don’t stop being part of the family, you’re allowed to criticize it. You wouldn’t maybe say that to strangers. I think that’s quite endearing about the whole thing — the text installation is not the only component. I want to talk a little bit more about the other aspects of it as well.
TA-S: During the conversation when we first started talking about intervention and the possibility of having other activities, Silas and I didn’t want it to be just our Black voices, as part of the intervention. So we started brainstorming and thinking about the ways to involve or invite the other alumni, current students, or maybe faculty to be involved. So we thought it would be a good idea to document the process as a component, as a way to share the essays, have interviews with previous CalArts students, current students, interviews, speculative posters for Black artists and designers. We thought of who should have been perhaps invited to campus so students could have the opportunity to make posters. So we invited other alumni and students to be involved in our process as well.
SM: I feel that because the conversation was like a healing balm and like a currency between us we were also thinking about other moments in Black history and Black excellence where the conversation was as important as each individual’s output as a creative person. And that made us think, of course, of the Harlem Renaissance. And this idea of the salons and A’Lelia Walkers and a hundred and fifty six street brownstone in Harlem and then George Douglas Smith’s residents in D.C., as these focal points, you know, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and Aaron Douglas. All these Black creators met and stopped and connected and boosted and nourished each other. And so this is the first of a series of other conversations that are connected to the themes of exhibition from pedagogy to the question, “Where is the Black in graphic design at CalArts?’” which will include alumni and current students. We’re also hoping perhaps faculty, but we’re still working on that. But that cross-section of conversation to me has so much value, almost as much as the pieces of design. It is the conversations that can lead to real change.
CA: The way I see this, too, is you guys are sort of creating a counter archive. You are creating the archive of the future, since one component of this intervention is to compile all these productive conversations and posters and activities and put them together in a publication, so it’s very interesting to me. Again, thinking about temporality, it’s like we are celebrating the culmination of the CalArts poster archive that finally got digitized and it’s online, available to the public, but this is also the starting point of something new, and I think that’s really exciting.
MW: One other thing I think is that you’re going to get contributions, and all of this process will eventually lead to another publication with the idea that it’s a companion piece to the book that we published of the poster archive. And I think one of the things that brings it full circle is that another one of the starting points for a critical response to the archive was actually the essay that Sarah Gottesdiener wrote for the Inside Out book. And I didn’t know this at the time, but Sarah had asked Silas to look at the essay when she was working on it. Her essay re-envisions the archive from an LGBTQ perspective. A lot of the questions that she was asking were also really important and drove a lot of this conversation as well. I just wanted to acknowledge the importance of that piece of writing as well.
CA: Something that we didn’t talk about yet is the issue of graphic design education -and you guys all became educators. I was curious to know how you see the future of graphic design education. How do you think social media is affecting it, since social media is amplifying all the goods and evils of our times: from generating new forms of collectivity to fomenting extreme individualism and celebrity culture? So, what are some of the questions that you think we should be asking the discipline? And specifically, what are some of the questions that graphic design educators should be addressing right now?
SM: I feel like your question ties to what Michael was saying about Sarah’s essay, and I would just want to echo that text is really powerful in her interrogation. Not only what’s an archive, but the teaching conversations around how the archive was created. I think she’s asking a lot of questions. She doesn’t say this in her essay, but I use this term “pedagogical damage” and I think every teacher’s student has it, including our teachers as well. How do you contend with the personal question marks of your own experience and with what the discipline is asking? I think one of amazing things about the framework that I was given at CalArts is this ability to make with a question. And that includes your pedagogy, including what you create in the classroom. I think there’s an amazing dialogue that had already been brewing, but it’s just been heightened in the last six months or so around questioning design, not only how it should be taught and who should get access to it, but also design as a tool or as a fabric of the systems of political upheaval, of communication. If you think about social media, I think of a protest. Graphic design is there through all of it, as a thing that can make visible the systems that need to change.
MW: It is also a weird thing about being an educator — you’re stuck in a time loop and you feel like you’re almost doing the same things over and over again. So your change is not always just about what you do, it’s what your students do. So in a way I feel like I had a hand in Silas’s and Tasheka’s education, and then they’ll have a hand in somebody else’s education, and they’ll have a hand in somebody else’s education. And that pedagogy doesn’t remain the same as it gets filtered through those people. But I think if you can have that energy, that enthusiasm, that sense of trying to not have everybody turn out of the factory the same, I think that that’s the key thing.
CA: You’re pointing at graphic design as an industry and graphic design as a discipline that is completely enmeshed in capitalism, right? So I think that it’s really complicated.
MW: It is totally enmeshed in capitalism. But the whole point of the posters, for instance, like the Visiting Artist posters, is that they are removed from that functional context. The immediacy of reading about an event like that, that’s out the window. These are about the designer’s personal agendas. They’re about formal experimentation. So in that way, as a body of work, they’re already against the system. They are counter to how the design is meant to work in a lot of ways.
TA-S: I mean, the fact that we didn’t have to get those posters critiqued by Michael in and of itself made it so much more freeing. But it also counters the idea of the construct of the critique. Critique is removed from that process in a sense, and the critique sort of comes in. Now, one thing that I love about doing the posters at CalArts is that the critique is sort of whether your poster gets taken off the wall. If your poster is still there after the lecture, by the start of your critique, you know maybe it wasn’t the best poster hanging around. I think that it sort of even turns itself on its head in that way. That’s just another type of teaching, too. And I guess there’s a sense of agency that you’re giving the students to have those little small moments, too, right? You can just do work and not have to worry about it being looked at in a classroom. And so that’s something that I think about — when are the moments? Where are the teaching spaces where the hierarchy can kind of get flattened a little bit morel, where the students feel they have that voice and the space to be free? You don’t have to worry about being critiqued. So I think that part of the future is the flattening of hierarchies, where students feel like they’re not worried about making something for the teacher. They’re not worried about fulfilling their teachers’ needs. Because for some it’s like you teach your students to become your little minions. And do we really want that? That’s not really progress. I want them to be able to think for themselves and feel confidence in their own voice.
SM: That’s making me think of the zine your students recently finished. Can you just talk about it because I feel like that’s a perfect example of what Carmen is asking about, the future of education, but also the discipline itself.
TA-S: Yeah, well, because of my research, my interests, and highlighting Black designers who have made contributions to the field of design — historically, there are sort of these untold stories. I wrote a grant at my university to get some funds. I had decided that I wanted my students to create a chapter or a section with the idea, because it’s called the missing chapter, where they each had to do research on either a Black designer, a Black design studio, or a Black publication. They each were asked to write and design a spread and the publication. And so we designed it collectively. We worked together to talk about just general design stuff like color and paper. So they were completely involved in the process. It wasn’t me telling them what they had to do. The only instructions that they had from me were they had to use Joshua’s Darden’s type. They chose who they wanted to research. They did the writing. They did the layout. That wasn’t a grid necessarily. I didn’t even give them that. I just gave them a format and the size that fit within our budget. And it was actually some of the most freeing work that they did. I think that is sort of how we can move, where we’re having the students do their work and they are in control of what they’re learning. They’re creating their own spaces to decide what they want to learn and what they want to investigate what they’re interested in.
MW: Is it something you’re going to try and publish or is it getting distributed somehow?
TA-S: Yeah, I’m distributing it through social media.
SM: Drawdown books is carrying it. That’s one of the coolest art book fair publishers and distributors of graphic design material.
TA-S: Oh, yeah — Drawdown and actually Slanted X. They want to distribute it as well. So it’s actually going into a reprint right now because I’m out. So, yeah, it’s going through the process of getting reprinted and distributed some more.
CA: That sounds really great! And I look forward to seeing the salons you are putting together. They are incredible and I think that a lot of these questions are going to be readdressed through these public conversations. Thank you everyone!
Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Southeastern Louisiana University and faculty in the MFA Program in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Art. Tasheka is the principal of Blacvoice, a Graphic Design Studio that does work for small businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. Tasheka’s research focuses on the discovery of Black people whose work has been omitted from the historical canon of graphic design.
Silas Munro is a partner of Polymode, a bi-coastal design studio that creates poetic, and research-informed design with clients in the cultural sphere and community-based organizations including MoMA, The Phillips Collection, The New Museum, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale. Munro’s writing appears in the book, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America published by Princeton Architectural Press. Munro is an Associate Professor at Otis College of Art and Design, and advisor at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Michael Worthington is a founding partner at Counterspace, a graphic design studio, specializing in editorial and identity work for cultural clients. He has taught in the graphic design department at CalArts since 1995, including being program director for many years. Michael runs the Graphic Design Poster Archive at CalArts, he edited and published the book Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1980–2019, and organized the accompanying exhibition at REDCAT.