Silas Munro.
Silas Munro.

Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist Lecture: Silas Munro

October 28, 2020
6p Central

Silas Munro—partner of the bi-coastal design studio Polymode, associate professor of communication arts at the Otis College of Art and Design, and advisor, founding faculty, and chair emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts—will deliver the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist Lecture, titled BEARING WITNESS: A DESIGNER'S STRUGGLE FOR INTEGRITY.

The online event is free, but registration is required. Register here>>

In the fall of 1962, James Baldwin gave a lecture at Community Church in New York City entitled The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity. The speech was later broadcast via radio on WBAI. In the talk, Baldwin grapples with defining terms like "artist" or "integrity." He concludes that an artist or designer must confront the dilemma that they are "bearing witness helplessly to something which everybody knows, and nobody wants to face." Munro will explore how his mutable practice as a designer, educator, writer, researcher, historian, poet, surfer, and activist has attempted to create a form of integrity in the face of racism, homophobia, classism, stigma, and other forms of exclusion. This attempt at integration is reflected in his lived experience as a queer biracial man and the experiences of his clients and students. Munro is particularly interested in the often unaddressed post-colonial relationship between design and marginalized communities. His practice sheds light, opens up space, and speculates on new futures for more inclusive design disciplines.

About Silas Munro

In the past year Munro has emerged as one of the most exciting practitioners of community-engaged design and as an influential scholar known for his contributions to W. E. B. Du Bois' Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, published by Princeton Architectural Press in late 2018. The project has been featured in articles in Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, and Black Perspectives (African American Intellectual History Society).

Munro's scholarly research addresses the relationship between designers' personal identities, formal systems, and strategies they utilize, and how both interact with the communities they serve. In workshops and lectures he addresses post-colonial relationships between design and marginalized communities and offers practical ways for educators and practitioners to decolonize the way design is taught ("Major/Minor History") and to create inclusive new frameworks ("Nodal Historical Network"). His design work and writing has been published in books, exhibitions, and websites in Germany, Japan, Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom, including Chronicle Books, IDEA magazine, Eye, and Slanted magazine.

He earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. He has been a critic and lecturer at leading programs including Yale School of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art, NC State, RISD, and CalArts. Polymode creates poetic and research-informed design with clients in the cultural sphere and community-based organizations including MoMA, The Phillips Collection, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale, The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Walker Art Center, Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, ICA at Virginia Commonwealth University, The New Museum, Wynwood Arts District Miami, and the U.S. Department of States Bureau of Cultural Affairs. Polymode instills joyful craft into is practice of visual design, publications, identities, workshops, and interfaces that lead the edge of design.