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.
Silas Munro engages multi-modal practices that inspire people to elevate themselves and improve society. Munro’s design studio Poly-Mode has designed identities and publications for exhibitions of Jacob Lawrence at MoMA, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale, Great Force for the ICA at VCU, and Willi Smith: Street Couture for Cooper Hewitt. Munro’s writing has appeared in Eye, Slanted, the Walker Reader, and the book W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America. He is particularly interested in the often unaddressed post-colonial relationship between design and marginalized communities. Munro holds an MFA from CalArts and a BFA from RISD. He has served as a critic at CalArts, MICA, and Yale. Munro is Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art and Design and Advisor and Chair Emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
This event is organized and generously funded by the Ian Gillespie Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media.