TDC Virtual Salon
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

In design, visual expression is informed by an understanding of history, language, symbols, patterns and image aesthetics. It is imperative that designers have a strong foundation in these areas in order to support the creation of culturally conscious work. Despite this awareness, there remain gaps in design history that neglect showing a broad spectrum of visual languages from the past and excludes discussions on how design has been complicit in forming and reinforcing racism.

Through historical archival research and the act of experimental printmaking, my research aims to highlight the linguistic phrases used in promotional Black film posters during the Jim Crow through Blaxploitation eras. By extracting typographic elements such as “an all colored cast” or “with a cast of colored stars,” Kelly Walters is able to closely examine examples of segregation while also re-contextualizing them for new alternative platforms. In looking closely at typographic details, language, and gestures, identifiable patterns emerge pointing to shifts in communication styles and cultural representation in this area of poster design.

About the Speaker:

Kelly Walters is a designer and educator whose work investigates the intersection of black cultural vernacular in mainstream media. Her research practice is deeply intertwined with the molding and shaping of cultural identity, and an investment in making visible historical visual expressions that reclaim a Black voice within the field of graphic design. In her independent design studio Bright Polka Dot, she produces print and digital ephemera for publications, exhibitions and social campaigns. She currently is an Assistant Professor of Communication Design at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York.


Instagram: @brightpolkadot