In early November I will give a paper on the work of product and industrial designer Charles Harrison and the fashion designer company New Breed as part of a symposium marking the opening of African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce, and the Politics of Race. This symposium gathers scholars and design practitioners who address all aspects of design in African American life. While the exhibition celebrates the works of Chicago-based graphic artists in fields ranging from sign-painting to doll-making, the symposium goes beyond Chicago and beyond the graphic arts in order to take stock of current work in the field and to explore new directions for research and practice. As they advance new narratives and methodologies that grasp the history of African American design, speakers illuminate critical problems at the intersection of art, politics, and everyday life.
The symposium features keynote addresses by Jacqueline Goldsby (Yale University) and Adam Green (University of Chicago), along with presentations by Elspeth Brown (University of Toronto), Jason Chambers (University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign), Romi Crawford (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Joshua Clark Davis (University of Baltimore), Michelle Fisher (Philadelphia Art Museum/City University of New York), Brenna Greer (Wellesley College), Kinohi Nishikawa (Princeton University), and Michelle Joan Wilkinson (National Museum of African American History and Culture).