College of Fine Arts, School of Art

A new speaker series starting this month aims to highlight the experiences, expertise and creativity of Black people to the University and Tucson communities and foster a more inclusive campus culture for Black students, employees and other communities of color.

The series, titled “Out of This World: Afrofuturist Expressions Across Science, Art, Technology and Design,” will open Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Kachina Lounge on the third level of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. The talk will feature Silas Munro, a designer and chair of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

All talks in the series are free and open to the public.

Designer Silas Munro
Black Faculty Speaker Series
Tuesday, Nov. 29

Fireside Chat and Lunch, 11:30a — limited to 25 students
Public Lecture, 5p, at Student Union
Please Register Here!

The first talk in the series — co-sponsored by Arizona Arts’ Racial Justice Studio — will feature Silas Munro, a designer and chair of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His talk, “Future Forces of History,” will detail how his journey as a queer, Black designer has shaped the future for his practice, teaching and life. (Photo courtesy of Silas Munro)

The Black Faculty Group, a University affinity group, organized the series with support from Faculty Affairs, which is part of the Office of the Provost. The Executive Office of the President is funding the series.

The series was born out of discussions between members of the Black Faculty Group and Liesl Folks, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, about structural issues related to the recruitment, success and retention of Black faculty at the University, as well as the campus climate for diversity.

“The purpose of the series is to support Black students and faculty, the Black community beyond the University, and other communities of color,” said Amelia Kraehe, associate vice president for equity in the arts and a member of the Black Faculty Group. “By bringing Black intellectuals, creatives and leaders to the University to share their work, the series fosters community dialogue about Blackness and all its rich variations across time and place.”

The series’ theme centers on Afrofuturism, an idea born in the 1990s that reframes Black history by emphasizing the talent and success of the Black community rather than starting with the enslavement of Black people. Afrofuturism blends science fiction, art and technology to imagine a future that is freer, more just and sustainable for everyone on Earth, said Kraehe, who is also an associate professor in the School of Art and co-founder and co-director of the University’s Racial Justice Studio, an initiative of Arizona Arts.

Munro, the first speaker, is a graphic designer, scholar of graphic design history and a partner of Poly-Mode, a design studio that works primarily with cultural institutions. Munro has worked with the city of Los Angeles, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others.

A course that Munro designed and teaches, called Black Design in America, focuses on the origins of typography, mathematics and other graphic language systems within African diasporic cultures and movements for Black liberation, including the civil rights movement, Afrofuturism and Black Lives Matter.

Munro’s talk, “Future Forces of History,” will open the series by detailing how his journey as a queer, Black designer has shaped the future for his practice, teaching and life.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in UA@Work on Nov. 15, 2022. Read the complete article here.

This series is organized by a sub-committee of the Black Faculty Affinity Group including:

  • Dr. Mamadou Baro, Chair of BARA, Associate Professor, School of Anthropology
  • Dr. Amy Kraehe, Associate Professor, School of Art, Associate Vice President, Equity in the Arts
  • Dr. Tarnia Newton, Assistant Clinical Professor, College of Nursing
  • Dr. gloria j. wilson, Associate Professor, School of Art, Co-Director – Racial Justice Studio

Coordination of the series is supported by Faculty Affairs and funded by the Office of the President.

Co-Sponsors & Collaborators include: Racial Justice Studio – Arizona Arts, Arizona Institute for Resilience, Biosphere 2, BIO5 Institute, Beyond Juneteenth Committee, Center for Digital Humanities, College of Fine Arts, College of Education, College of Science, Department of Africana Studies, Faculty Affairs, Honors College, Indigenous Resilience Center, John and Sandi Flint, The Nurse-Midwifery Specialty – College of Nursing, Research, Innovation & Impact (RII)