Category Archives: design

Contact: Art and the Pull of Print

By Jennifer L. Roberts (2024)

In process and technique, printmaking is an art of physical contact. From woodcut and engraving to lithography and screenprinting, every print is the record of a contact event: the transfer of an image between surfaces, under pressure, followed by release. Contact reveals how the physical properties of print have their own poetics and politics and provides a new framework for understanding the intelligence and continuing relevance of printmaking today.

The seemingly simple physics of printmaking brings with it an array of metamorphoses that give expression to many of the social and conceptual concerns at the heart of modern and contemporary art. Exploring transformations such as reversal, separation, and interference, Jennifer Roberts explores these dynamics in the work of Christiane Baumgartner, David Hammons, Edgar Heap of Birds, Jasper Johns, Corita Kent, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Robert Rauschenberg, and many other leading artists who work at the edge of the medium and beyond.

Posted in art, culture, design, history, language, media, printmaking, technology, theory

Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism

By Julia Watson (2019)

Three hundred years ago, intellectuals of the European Enlightenment constructed a mythology of technology. Influenced by a confluence of humanism, colonialism, and racism, this mythology ignored local wisdom and indigenous innovation, deeming it primitive. Today, we have slowly come to realize that the legacy of this mythology is haunting us.

Designers understand the urgency of reducing humanity’s negative environmental impact, yet perpetuate the same mythology of technology that relies on exploiting nature. Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable.

Lo—TEK, derived from Traditional Ecological Knowledge, is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices, and beliefs, countering the idea that indigenous innovation is primitive and exists isolated from technology. It is sophisticated and designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems.

Posted in art, culture, design, environment, history, myth, science, technology

Ray Johnson c/o

Edited by Caitlin Haskell and Jordan Carter (2021)

Ray Johnson (1927–1995) was a renowned maker of meticulous collages whose works influenced movements including Pop Art, Fluxus, and Conceptual Art. Emerging from the interdisciplinary community of artists and poets at Black Mountain College, Johnson was extraordinarily adept at using social interaction as an artistic endeavor and founded a mail art network known as the New York Correspondence School. Drawing on the vast collection of Johnson’s work at the Art Institute of Chicago, this volume gives new shape to our understanding of his artistic practice and features hundreds of pieces that include artist’s books, collages, drawings, mail art, and performance documentation.

Posted in art, design, exhibition, language, media, semiotics, typography

Printmaking in Paris: The Rage for Prints at the Fin de Siècle

By Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho and Marije Vellekoop (2013)

In the years between 1890 and 1905, Paris witnessed a revolution in printmaking. Before this time, prints had primarily served reproductive or political ends, but, as the century came to a close, artistic quality became paramount, and printmaking blossomed into an autonomous art form. This gorgeously illustrated and accessibly written book looks at the circumstances in which this terrific new enthusiasm for prints unfolded; the principal players in its development; and the various printmaking techniques being used.

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, printmaking

African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design

By Ron Eglash (1999)

Drawing on interviews with African designers, artists, and scientists, Ron Eglash investigates fractals in African architecture, traditional hairstyling, textiles, sculpture, painting, carving, metalwork, religion, games, practical craft, quantitative techniques, and symbolic systems. He also examines the political and social implications of the existence of African fractal geometry. His book makes a unique contribution to the study of mathematics, African culture, anthropology, and computer simulations.

Posted in architecture, art, culture, design, history, science

Afrikan Alphabets: The Story of Writing in Afrika

By Saki Mafundikwa (2006)

Afrikan Alphabets will lead you to uncharted places in Afrikan cultures. This book is about the highly graphic pictographs, ideographs, and scripts devised and designed by Afrikans themselves. In Afrika, the harmony of art, nature and spirit is the rule, not the exception. In terms of the graphic arts, alphabets designed by Afrikans show that the spiritual line is free and unencumbered by the rule of the grid. Afrikan alphabets express ideas, systems of thought, cultural imperatives, aesthetic preferences, and spirit. They are one of the important keys to help unlock what has been kept hidden from so many for so long. These alphabets with their deeply meaningful graphic constructions show the intelligence and ingenuity of Afrikan peoples.

Posted in culture, design, history, language, typography

Fluxus Forms: Scores, Multiples, and the Eternal Network

By Natilee Harren (2020)

While today the Fluxus collective is recognized for its radical neo-avant-garde works of performance, publishing, and relational art and its experimental, interdisciplinary approach, it was not taken seriously in its own time. With Fluxus Forms, Natilee Harren captures the magnetic energy of Fluxus activities and collaborations that emerged at the intersections of art, music, performance, and literature. The book offers insight into the nature of art in the 1960s as it traces the international development of the collective’s unique intermedia works — including event scores and Fluxbox multiples — that irreversibly expanded the boundaries of contemporary art.

Posted in art, culture, design, history, media, music, printmaking

Nature: Collaborations in Design

Edited by Andrea Lipps, Matilda McQuaid, Caitlin Condell, Gène Bertrand

Designers today are striving to transform our relationship with the natural world. Although humans are intrinsically linked to nature, our actions have frayed this relationship, forcing designers to think more intentionally and to consider the impact of every design decision, from an artifact’s manufacture and use to its obsolescence. As a result, designers are aligning with biologists, engineers, agriculturists, environmentalists and many other specialists to design a more harmonious and regenerative future. Based on these new partnerships, designers are asking different questions and anticipating future challenges, which not only change the design process, but also what design means.

Nature: Collaborations in Design ― companion to an exhibition titled Nature ― Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, Co-organized with Cube design museum―includes over 65 international projects from the fields of architecture, product design, landscape design, fashion, interactive and communication design, and material research. More than 300 compelling and exquisite photographs, illustrations and content from data visualizations illustrate seven essays, which explain and explore designers’ strategies around understanding, simulating, salvaging, facilitating, augmenting, remediating and nurturing nature. Four conversations between scientists and designers delve into topics related to synthetic biology, scientific versus design lexicon and recent shifts in the meaning of nature with a glossary illuminating scientific, technological and theoretical concepts and processes invoked by the designers.

Posted in architecture, art, design, environment, exhibition, science, technology

Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934-2000

Edited by Elizabeth G. Seaton and Jane Myers (2015)

This highly original study offers the first comprehensive, critical overview of a company that expanded the audience for American prints, ceramics, and textiles throughout the 20th century.

Link to Illustrated Index of Associated American Artists Prints, Ceramics, and Textile Designs: AAA Index

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, printmaking

The Storm of Creativity

By Kyna Leski (2015)

Although each instance of creativity is singular and specific, Kyna Leski tells us, the creative process is universal. Artists, architects, poets, inventors, scientists, and others all navigate the same stages of the process in order to discover something that does not yet exist. All of us must work our way through the empty page, the blank screen, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, and doubt. In this book, Leski draws from her observations and experiences as a teacher, student, maker, writer, and architect to describe the workings of the creative process.

Posted in architecture, art, design, education, theory