On the Consideration of a Black Grid

Keynote Address: Tenth Anniversary Colloquium

Silas Munro
Partner at Polymode
Artist, Design Author, and Design Educator

From the funky, fresh Black modernism of the Johnson Publishing Company’s headquarters designed by John Warren Moutoussamy with Arthur Elrod and William Raiser to the expressive graffitied grids of Adam Pedelton’s monumental canvases in black and white, there lives a wide-ranging matrix of possibilities for what I consider to be a Black Grid. The renowned design scholar Audrey G. Bennett’s text, “Follow the Golden Ratio from Africa to the Bauhaus for a Cross-Cultural Aesthetic for Images“, traces a lineage of fractal ingenuity in the Sub-Saharan Cameronean palace of a Chief in Logone-Birni that likely influenced Egyptian, North African Temple architecture, linking to Italy through the mathematician Fibonacci know for his so-called “golden ratio” that then informed European ideals of beauty circulating in the infamous Bauhaus art school. Bennett’s postulations connect to my meandering search to see myself as a Black designer, artist, and unexpected design historian in a sea of pedagogies that don’t represent me or my lived experience. This brief visual essay charts a series of experimental meditations on how grids can shape Black liberatory forms. My Polymodal design investigations set a curious space that asks, What might be a Black Grid?

This design research is presented at Design Incubation Colloquium 10.3: Tenth Anniversary, St. John’s University (Hybrid) on Friday, June 7, 2024.