About

“…I would like to keep all of my remains and my images intact in their mystery when I begin. Later I will get to the facts. That way I can explore two worlds—the actual and the possible.”
~ Toni Morrison [1]

I am a Black/African-American woman (she/her) and artist-scholar residing in my hometown, Detroit, MI. I work at the intersection of arts, archives, and African American histories. Through engaging artmaking as an information technology, I am interested in critiquing, reimagining, and refiguring cultural histories. My overall aim is to contribute to projects that work to dismantle, redress, and recuperate from societal ills. These harms are rooted in large part by long-situated cultural narratives systematically sustained to subjugate and oppress marginalized peoples. I locate my research within the area of Art as Information (AAI), a subfield of Information Sciences that I am currently helping to shape.[2] Broadly, AAI involves the study of arts’ role within knowledge production: how we craft, document, process, and circulate information through making art. Practicing art-as-information (aai) blurs lines between imaginative and intellectual processes. AAI identifies this meshing as the work of art, how artmaking attends to the ever-being or living, mutable nature of information.[3] Approached as an information technology, artmaking provides another means to explore what is informative and how we are informed through creative processes. For instance, relating this work to novelist Toni Morrison’s creative writing process in reimagining cultural histories, stories are crafted from what is left behind and reframed by knowledge workers who reconstitute the missing gaps. This is done to make sense of their world and others.

I’m entering my 5th year as a doctoral student in the School of Information Sciences. Black Feminist thought, Black Feminist Material Culture and intersectionality (bell hooks, Sharbreon Plummer, and Patricia Hill Collins), decolonial approaches to documentation and artwork (Lisa Gail Collins and Linda Tuhiwai Smith), research-creation (Natalie Loveless), and Sense-Making (Brenda Dervin and Tonyia Tidline) are a few paths towards thinking and making that I’m exploring. [August 2022]

Notes:

  1. Toni Morrison, “The Site of Memory,” in Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, eds. Russell Baker and William Zinsser. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995), 117.
  2. My pursuit with AAI originates from and is inspired by the lovely Tonyia J. Tideline’s scholarship:
    “Making Sense of Art as Information.” PhD diss., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2003. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/81531. She introduces the term, “art-as-information,” and positions arts’ sense-making activities within the broader study of information behavior. She builds this claim using Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making methodology.
  3. See Tidline’s dissertation section, “Art as Existence,” p.28–9. Tidline expounds on “the work of art,” as discussed by philosopher and educator, John Dewey.

Profile Log

[2021] I am a scholar working at the intersection of Information Sciences, African American Studies and art. Specifically, I work towards imagining new ways of analyzing and re-presenting past documentation of African American experiences. My overall aim is to provoke critical discussions regarding information and society within the Black majority and broader American public. I argue that examining the materiality of information (i.e. how it is visually and physically formed) yields additional insight into how institutions and individuals communicate, reproduce, and exploit information in society. My scholarship takes the form of text and art to investigate the formatting of documents in order to re-present information in a familiar (textual) yet unconventional (artistic) manner. For example, encountering data that is stitched onto fabric, similar to that of a quilt, is read differently from data presented in a conventional format such as a printed article, digital spreadsheet, or charts and graphs. In this case, art/design engages public inquiry by reimagining or transforming an everyday object to relay information. In other words, my approach provides the reader an alternative perspective to engage with information that differs from most traditional scholarly approaches. It involves studying broad aspects such as type (object, audio, motion) and function, as well as finer details such as color, letterform, and shape. These components carry meaning that are as pertinent as the content itself.

[2020] cries and laughs…

[2019] I am crafting an interdisciplinary portfolio that combines theories of knowledge transmission with art practice. Specifically, I am exploring how conventional ways of communicating narrative (e.g. auto/biographies, published media, exhibit panel displays, etc.) can be visually transmitted or re-presented to engage a broader audience using textile crafts, experimental typography, posters, art books and motion graphics. I will present this work in public/shared spaces to initiate engagement such as museum/library/gallery exhibitions, web/social media spaces, conferences, lectures, etc. By imagining new ways of representing African American experiences, I intend to encourage reviews (and new views) of known and less known stories from my cultural heritage. By performing/embodying these representations through art practice, I will contribute additional perspectives on how knowledge can be visually transmitted between maker and public.

[2018] Information that is historically impactful lives unnoticeably among the public at large and should be made more accessible to those who live outside the restrictive spaces of academic institutions, research facilities and traditional art galleries. Being communicative in nature, design is an effective conduit for closing or filling the gaps of our understanding with one another in society. There is an opportunity to engage the general public more critically about our collective memory and narrative(s). Increased awareness and knowledge of the untold (or less told) stories that live in our immediate location and beyond will increase our capacity to see common ground among our differences as individuals and groups.

[2017] Courtney explores the transformative properties of memory in relation to history and the retelling of history. Due to our personal (and inescapable) perceptions, a happening’s complete origin is inaccessible. It can only be re-structured and re-presented via collective memory. Courtney’s practice involves visualizing this re-collection through design methods of overlap, fragmentation, pattern and typography. As gaps in memory are realized, it is Courtney’s hope that more unknown pieces will emerge and be included within our collective narrative.