The relationship between design and culture in the Chinese and Chinese American community
Mary Y Yang Assistant Professor Boston University
Radical Characters is a study group and curatorial project that explores the relationship between design and culture in the Chinese and Chinese American community. Each project seeks to decentralize the design canon and to co-build history and community by initiating dialogues through educational experiences. Looking beyond Western design pedagogy, Radical Characters studies Hanzi as a point of inquiry to learn, innovate, and study graphic design from a non-linear approach. Radical Characters looks to projects such as Decolonising Design and the People’s Graphic Design Archive that model methods for challenging practice, pedagogy, and contributions to the design field. The first project was “Radical Return,” an exhibition that draws inspiration from the Chinese character 回 hui, which means to return, to turn around, to circle or to reply. An international call for submissions prompted participants to use 回 as a grid—visually and conceptually—to consider a path they seek to retrace as Chinese or Chinese American designers. Thirty-six Chinese and Chinese American artists and graphic designers were selected to exhibit their graphic work simultaneously at Boston University Art Galleries and IS A GALLERY. The designers’ work accompanied with statements and additional commissioned essays were published in a bilingual catalog. The exhibition opened up a collective space for designers to explore the concept of return through language, typography, cultural traditions, identity, and design history. Radical Characters acknowledges that the works by no means form a complete picture of the multifaceted and complex narratives experienced by Chinese and Chinese American designers, but rather shape an in-progress collection site for building knowledge through the exchange of graphic design and culture. The exhibition presents a framework for a design curatorial process that instigates cultural dialogue among the participants and offers alternative ways for exhibition-making and the exhibition design process.
Authors Robin Landa and Aaris Sherin will share their motivation for writing, talk about the importance of precedence and literature reviews, discuss different approaches to design writing, answer questions, and offer advice for new design writers. This event is for design educators who want to incorporate writing into their research agenda. Participants will identify the challenges they face approaching their writing projects.
Robin and Aaris will cite publishers for submissions. Join Robin and Aaris for this workshop as we kick off the first in a series dealing with writing, research and getting published.
Robin Landa, Distinguished Professor in the Michael Graves College at Kean University, facilitates the Design Incubation Fellowship book group and is the author of numerous books, including Graphic Design Solutions, 6e, Advertising by Design, 4e, and Nimble: Thinking Creatively in the Digital Age.
Aaris Sherin, Professor of Graphic Design at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, Director of Fellowships at Design Incubation and is the author of a number of books including her most recent publications Introduction to Graphic Design and Sustainable Thinking: Ethical Approaches to Design and Design Management.
Courtney Marchese, Associate Professor of Interactive Media and Design, Quinnipiac University, and Design Incubation Writing Fellow 2018, published a book review, Never Use Futura, in Design and Culture.
Sharon Oiga Associate Professor University of Illinois at Chicago
Guy Villa Jr Assistant Professor Columbia College Chicago
In an event that took place in the 1920s, designers affiliated with the Chicago Chapter of AIGA held an unsanctioned, notoriously wild party on Lake Michigan. When the AIGA Board of Directors in New York learned of the incident, they disavowed the Chicago Chapter on the grounds of lack of control over members. The orphaned designers then gathered to form The Society of Typographic Arts (STA). The salacious start of this professional design organization foreshadowed events to come in their 90-year history, including a temporary switch to the name of American Center for Design as well as an infamous dumpster-diving incident to save archival work. These factual incidents, uncovered in the research of the book created for the 90th anniversary of the STA, will be detailed in the presentation. Viewers will expand their knowledge of design history, hear about STA’s periodically controversial timeline of events, see significant works of design, and learn how designers of this era and region characterized design in the American Midwest.
Andrés Vera Martínez Assistant Professor, Cartooning and Illustration Lesley University College of Art and Design Cambridge, MA
The Spanish term Mestizos, meaning mixed, came into popular usage during the 16th century to describe the offspring of Spaniards and Native Americans. Vaqueros, or the first cowboys, were Mestizos and their cowboy culture has been mythologized and marketed; but too often stripped of the ethnic origins before presented for popular consumption. Tejanos, or the first Texans, were borne of the mix of Spaniards and Native Americans and were the original cowboys of the United States. This culture lives on today in Texas through the food, language and ranching culture. Espiritu, Texas 1886 -2015 will tell the story of a Texas built upon the struggles and triumphs of diverse people. This presentation will focus on one chapter, Lamesa, TX 1961: Andrew Martínez.
Stephen Eskilson Professor of Art History Eastern Illinois University
Author of Graphic Design: A New History (Yale University Press) and editor of reviews for Design and Culture (Bloomsbury) talks about different publishing experiences including books, journal articles, book reviews as well as digital and self-publishing.