Let’s Build the World

Black Design as Collaborative Practice
Wednesday, February 15Saturday, March 18

Sharp Building
6th Floor Exhibition Cases

Exhibition advertisement with information on the webpage.

The history of toys has always been aligned with education; use of play in learning was the beginning of a pedagogical approach that sought an education free from rote memorization and harsh discipline. Blocks were the first didactic toy that embodied the definition of “the good toy” - a toy that allowed the child to build the world, was not gendered, did not adhere to styles/trends, eschewed violence and was made from natural materials such as hard wood.

However, this design-focused education available to white students was simply not offered to Black students when desegregation began; rather, their experiences in the American educational system has been defined by divestment and segregation. Dilapidated public school buildings and prescriptive objects mirrored the political sentiment of divestment in learning for Black children and were meant to teach children their role in society. Divestment in the locations where African Americans lived and attended schools lead to the failure of desegregation as a liberatory practice.

This exhibit reconsiders the place Blackness occupies. Instead of locating Blackness within systemic problems, it considers Black design as the progenitor of complex systems of thought. This exhibit suggests that studying the building blocks of Black culture can reposition Black production of knowledge as a collaborative practice that invites us to live in tandem with other ways of being and call into question, struggle against, critique, and undo prevailing racist scripts.

Artivism Community Art Logo

Curated and Designed by Schetauna Powell, SAIC student and Lead Designer at Artivism Community Art, LLC


Please note, the library may have evolving visitor policies as SAIC's Make Together protocols change. Before planning your visit to the exhibit, please review our Visit Us page for the most up-to-date library protocols. If you have questions about Flaxman Library 6th floor exhibits, please email aokeefe@saic.edu.