At the Paris World Fair of 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois used groundbreaking statistical graphics to document the accomplishments of Black Americans and life inside “the Veil” of systemic oppression. In Fall 2022, the Library of Congress will lend a selection of these rare data visualizations to Cooper Hewitt’s Recharting Modern Design exhibition, allowing visitors to see them in person for the first time in 120 years. The data graphics of W.E.B. Du Bois will appear in dialogue with decorative objects from the fair, connecting Du Bois’s “color line” to the “whiplash line” of Art Nouveau. What is the enduring power of these graphics today?
Devon Zimmerman is a scholar of modern European and American art and design whose research focuses on the intersection of the history of the decorative arts and the historical avant-garde. He is a guest curator and senior research cataloguer at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. He is currently co-curating the exhibition, Recharting Modern Design, opening Fall 2022 that critically examines modern design at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris by exploring how currents of nationalism, imperialism, and colonialism shaped objects of modern design and their display at the fair. He received his Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of Maryland, College Park
Lanisa Kitchiner is chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress. Previously, she was director of education and scholarly initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art (2014-2020), where she helped create the museum’s first online exhibition, Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean. She earned a doctorate in African Studies and Research from Howard University, where she also served as associate director for programs of the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center.
ABOUT THE GRAPHIC DESIGN HISTORIES SERIES
Four lectures explore the history of print and digital culture, presented by Cooper Hewitt’s extraordinary community of curators and scholars. The series is presented by the Parsons School of Design/Cooper Hewitt Master’s Program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies.