I am presenting the above poster about my doctoral research at the ALISE 2023 Conference (Association for Library and Information Science Education) for their Jean Tague-Sutcliffe Doctoral Poster Competition and Reception on October 4, 2023.
*If you’re a fellow conference attendee who’s stopping by to learn more about my work——HELLO and thanks for visiting! 🙂 Below are additional images of my developing work that focuses on expanding narrative/fiction through making art objects (As outlined in middle-bottom portion of poster).
Litwin Books is an independent academic publisher of books about media, communication, and the cultural record—-publishing books that examine theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective. The award consists of $1,000, given annually to a graduate student who is working on a dissertation on the philosophy of information.
Below is a description of my work on for my dissertation using (hopefully) less academic jargon than my proposal’s abstract:
“Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand” is a reexamination of personal reading and archival practices within Library and Information Sciences from an artist’s perspective. Specifically, Courtney demonstrates how art practices—-within graphic design and fabric-textile arts—-are incorporated into the everyday acts of reading and knowledge production (such as storytelling and personal archiving). This dissertation involves the making of graphical and textual artworks to reinterpret and analyze stories and archives embedded within Quicksand (1928), a fictional and autobiographical novel by Nella Larsen. Larsen’s life and creative storytelling provide paths for how we may study cultural heritage(s) and knowledge(s) concerning African American womanhood and wellness. Courtney also reintroduces the subfield of Art as Information to examine how we may review such stories that have been historically silenced and disfigured by demonstrating the liberatory aspects of artmaking to intercept and dismantle exploitative narratives affixed to marginalized groups.
Along with rereading and extracting Larsen’s personal archive from her fiction, Courtney incorporates artmaking to further explore and analyze Black cultural narratives. She produces graphical iterations or reinterpretations of symbols, passages, and social-historical references expressed in Larsen’s novel using icon-like graphic systems, type and fabric design with zine and art book design. With Quicksand, Courtney develops an “Art as Information” approach supported by Black feminist thought to reread and respond to the novel. This model consists of three familiar and overlapping practices experienced while reading and archiving: re-reading, annotating, and making. By merging these information practices with artmaking, Courtney reintroduces Art as Information (AAI) as a subfield of Information Sciences. AAI examines how we craft, document, process, and circulate information through making art. Approached as an information technology, artmaking provides additional pathways (extending beyond traditional or text-dominant forms) to explore what is informative and how we are informed through our creative processes. Courtney specifically argues how making (art) while reading and in response to reading cultural narratives can help us think more critically (or openly) about various cultural knowledge(s) and their pertinence within a progressive society.
As of February 28, 2023 I am now ABD (“all but dissertation”) :D!! Essentially, this means that I have reached the final stage of my PhD program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. From this point forward, I may focus on completing my research, dissertation writing, and final exam.
I successfully defended my dissertation proposal entitled, “Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand.” MUCH has changed since I last posted…! I’ll share more on this later, but just wanted to document this event as it’s a MAJOR step and accomplishment in my overall development as a thinker, maker, and human being. Posting this also helps me to pause and smell the flowers, which has at times been difficult for me while trying to resist conditioning of grind/meritocracy-culture.
Here’s a link to my past presentation from my school’s calendar: Courtney Richardson’s Dissertation Proposal Defense. This page includes a link to my proposal manuscript, but it will soon expire. (Sorry-not-sorry, gotta wait until the final is published :). However, a copy of my abstract is added to the end of this page!
I am forever grateful for my multiple communities of support along the way:
God/Spirit, Family, and Chosen-Family: Beyond my immediate family, you know there’s too many of y’all to name at this point…BUT I’ll figure out something with my acknowledgements section <3.
Library and Information Science Comrades: Lettycia Torrones, DeAnza Williams, Jamillah Gabrielle, Posey (Stephanie)
My doctoral committee:
Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre, Chair
Professor Emerita Linda C. Smith
Associate Professor Safiya U. Noble, University of California, Los Angeles
Assistant Professor Blair Ebony Smith
“ART AS INFORMATION: RE-READING QUICKSAND”
Description (Abstract): [See less academ-icky version here.]
“Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand” is a micro-study of an African American cultural narrative through artmaking. My subject is the autobiographical and fictional novel, Quicksand by Nella Larsen (1928). Larsen’s life and creative storytelling provide paths for how we may attend to cultural heritage knowledge gaps about African American womanhood by engaging with the works (or informing processes) of art. This especially highlights works concerning self-definition and self-determination while navigating life within a racialized, classed, and gendered body. I intend to re-present Quicksand as an autobiographical artifact and living artwork to invite ongoing inquiry and knowledge production on Black womanhood in intimate and shared spaces. I will approach this research by making artworks that reiterate and interpret knowledges that emerge from reading Larsen’s narrative. I will also document processes and analysis of my annotations and artmaking that emerges—providing an intimate view of how Art as Information (AAI) [via Tonyia Tidline] is engaged to research an artifact for critical and iterative/cyclical exploration.
This dissertation reintroduces AAI as a subfield of Information Sciences that engages artmaking as an information technology. It involves the study of arts’ roles within knowledge production: how we craft, document, process, and circulate information through making art. For my research, I intertwine AAI with cultural-attentive lenses, such as Black Feminist Material Culture (BFMC) [via Sharbreon Plummer] and Culturally Situated Reader Response Theory (CRRT) [via Wanda Brooks, Susan Browne, LaTesha Velez], to examine how we may tend to cultural knowledges that are historically silenced and disfigured—exploring the liberatory aspects of artmaking to intercept and dismantle exploitative depictions (i.e., visual violences) historically committed against marginalized groups under the guise of neutral documentation and curiosity [via Lisa Gail Collins, Christina Sharpe, Saidiya Hartman]. I also lean on scholarship from Art Education (e.g., research creation) [via Natalie Loveless] to explore how AAI engages with auto/biographical knowledge production to navigate tensions between fiction and reality in documenting someone’s life as self-definition or embodiment emerges, evolves, and fluctuates over time [via Toni Morrison, Jamie Ann Lee]. Lastly, my ever-present question while conducting this research interrogates how artmaking may also tend to the psychological impact involved with processing such narratives on Black womanhood that involve traumatic experiences.
–Courtney Richardson, February 2023
*Bracketed texts are inserted above to highlight and credit a few scholars whose prior/current work has greatly helped me with my own thinking and making. There’s MANY others…! But those represented hereare my initial selection of folk to recognize. Thank you.
Video presentation for 2020–21 PAGE Fellowship* (Publicly Active Graduate Education)
10.19.2020 // PAGE Video Talk, 5 minute length
Abstract: Art and design (specifically type design and embroidery) is used to explore material differences between an 18th-century book production and modern dataset reproduction of the Book of Negroes, a registry of 3,000 Black ex-slaves, free(d), and freeborn people who were transported from America to Nova Scotia to escape racism and slavery. This project is the beginning of my doctoral research in reviewing and re-presenting historical material by intersecting Black Histories, Art Practice, and Information History. How is information made and represented/displayed across time? How does it become situated, and how does this impact our society today?
About PAGE [copied from website]: Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) is Imagining America’s (IA) network for publicly engaged graduate students in humanities, arts, and design. PAGE enhances the praxis and pedagogy of public scholarship; fosters a national, interdisciplinary community of peers and veteran scholars; and creates opportunities for collaborative knowledge production. The PAGE consortium, made up of alumni and allies of the program, promotes opportunities for mentorship and peer support from IA’s network. [https://imaginingamerica.org/what-we-do/fellowships/page/, accessed 8 January 2021]
Top: Official Podcast logo Bottom Left: Official Profile Icon Bottom Right: Additional icon graphics in supportive colors
Thee 6 Chix is a podcast is a business venture between myself and 5 close friends. I designed the logo and all related branding graphics.
In summary: Thee 6 Chix podcast is a space for ALL women to listen and learn from women who represent them. Our mission is to display authentic, healthy, empowering relationships, by discussing all aspects of life through the lens of each individual’s personal experiences, real-world situations, and faith, using various media platforms. Our goal is to be our authentic selves out loud and show other women that being real is the only way to be.
Left: Media button // Right: Excerpt from conceptual mood boards
Website Screenshots. Designed and developed on Wix platform. See full site design at thee6chix.com.
Official logo in color and black with supporting colors
From their website: “History Harvest at the University of Illinois (UIUC) is a collaborative public history project in which students engage with members of the public to collect and digitize documents and artifacts of historical interest for scholarly and community research.” (https://historyharvest.web.illinois.edu/omeka/)
While working as a Research Assistant at UIUC, I was also employed to create a logo for History Harvest. Corn-agriculture is a common motif in Urbana-Champaign, so the director requested a symbol to represent it if possible. I was happy to assist as I really enjoy creating simple yet unique icons!
History Harvest Welcome Event table and promotional buttons –> tshirts, banner and buttons created by History Harvest Students
Official and Alternate Colors for Code-Green themed logo
As stated on their website: “SourceLab is a digital humanities research collective established in 2015 by the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…SourceLab produces a peer-reviewed series of student-authored digital documentary work…” (https://sourcelab.history.illinois.edu/)
While working as a Research Assistant at UIUC, I was employed to redesign SourceLab’s logo along with designing custom templates for their scholarly digital publications using Scalar’s platform. Templates for additional branding material were also designed. A selection of this work is featured here.
Screenshots of Scalar Home page (Left: Desktop; Right: Mobile; Detail: pattern background)
Templates for Collateral Material: From left to right: Flyer, PowerPoint Presentation; Conference Poster
The openED archive is the community archive of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) located in Urbana, IL. The archive contains a variety of materials about the establishing of the UCIMC, including: back issues of the Public i and other indymedia, radical newspapers and magazines, Illinois zines, WRFU radio recordings and more. [The UCIMC’s mission is to foster the creation and distribution of media and art that emphasizes underrepresented voices and perspectives, and to promote empowerment and expression through media and arts education.]
Linocut source for logo
The logo is based on a linocut print I created which made this a fun project. The type was based on an existing open font from The League of Moveable Type named League Mono. Being able to form the logo in this way paid homage to the UCIMC’s history of independent publishing, media and art work.
The logo’s icon is inspired by a bird motif used continuously in UCIMC’s working groups, demonstrations, art and other visual collateral. This image only displays a small sample of birds displayed throughout the building. I worked at the archive as a research assistant, so after repeatedly encountering this bird motif, it was obvious to utilize it for the archive’s identity.
Official and alternate orientations with supportive colors
The Global Business Anthropology Summit (GBAS) was held in Tech Town Detroit (MI) with the purpose of bringing “together an international group of practitioners and scholars to reflect on future directions for the field, training priorities for the next generation, and ways to strengthen our global networks (www.clas.wayne.edu/Anthropology/Global-Business-Anthropology-Summit).” For its second year, I was commissioned to design its identity.
Business Anthropology involves connecting the dots between business and human interaction with purpose of creating a more substantial experience between the two. I visualized this understanding of connecting dots and human-focus throughout the GBAS identity.
Summit Report Book / Designed in its entirety
This report comprised of information shared throughout the summit, information about the various speakers and participants, and additional information on future steps.
7″ x 11″, 40 pages including cover
Cover: Digital color; White 120# Opus Dull Cover
Interior: Digital grayscale; White 32# Hammermill Color Copy Text
Business Anthropology Reprints Book / Designed in its entirety
Prior to the GBAS identity and summit report, I was commissioned to design a book that comprised of multiple reprints about anthropology’s impact on the business world. The book was used to acquire sponsorship and interest for the Global Business Anthropology Summit to take place the following year (and also lead to me being hired for the previously noted projects :).
Allen Batteau, Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) and main coordinator of the summit, was great to work with. I was especially happy that he allowed me to play with the type design for this first project.
Perfect bound book
7″ x 9″, 58 pages including cover
Cover: Digital color; White 120# Opus Dull Cover
Interior: Digital grayscale; White 32# Hammermill Color Copy Text
*Thanks to Print Tech, Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI) for printing both the summit and reprints books.
Two monogram options: Designer’s choice (left) and Client’s choice (right)
Mad Creation Studio is a small business owned by seamstress, Mona Pitts, who offers a wide variety of custom clothing and specializes in using Ankara fabric.
I enjoyed creating both monograms for Mona. The initial designs I created did not resonate with her as they did with me, so we went back to the drawing board (literally). I am happy to say that we were both pleased with the final monogram shown top right and at the end of this post.
Grace Family Church is based in Canton, MI whose mission is to “Love God and Love God’s people.” As someone who attended this church, I can happily attest to the love shown by its members! (gfamilychurchmi.org)
I revisited my Mend Type and fabric studies. I wanted to refine the craft of them and reveal more of their initial concepts which involved: reviewing, remembering and forgetting. But I also wanted to retain some of its history by using similar colors and fabric.
Reviewing images of Claudette Colvin and Jeremiah Reeves along with my previous overlap studies of Rosa Parks and Emmett Till.
Text: A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon by Gwendolyn Brooks
On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin, age 15, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL segregated bus — 9 months prior to Rosa Parks. After being taught about black literature and past heroes such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, she explained how her knowledge and resolve would not allow her to rise from her seat. She had also previously experienced a classmate of hers, Jeremiah Reeves (age 16), being convicted and placed on Death Row for being falsely accused of serially raping white women. Despite efforts to free him, he was later executed by electric chair in 1958 at age 22.
I cannot fully remember how I came across Ms. Colvin’s name but it was during my research of Rosa Parks and Viola Liuzzo. I learned of Jeremiah’s name through writings about her. The parallels between Colvin/Reeves and Parks/Till being so apparent moved me to somehow link their identities in this project. So I reached back to my re-membering study about Parks and Till. Also during this time, I was taking a Modern Literature course and became more exposed to artists such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and many others. I had previously examined Brooks’ poem of Bronzeville mother, which was written in response to Emmett Till’s murder. So all of these things or awarenesses just merged together for this project.
I revisited my initial study(What’s in a Name: Viola Liuzzo) as an underlying grid to arrange and reveal more content behind Viola Liuzzo’s name. Across the 12 posters a passage is revealed as other surrounding content transitions from primary to supporting content.
Photographs gathered from various news clippings, FBI reports and book, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo, Mary Stanton (1998). Photos of her park’s groundbreaking taken by myself.
Passage on posters by Rev. Malcolm Boyd as recorded in same book, From Selma to Sorrow, page 224:
It wasn’t easy knowing you, or even hearing you. I felt in fact, that you were often strong-willed, uncharitable, and impolite. But I saw you pouring out your life. I resented that too, as I safely clutched my own. But I did see you though sometimes I didn’t want you to know it.
Yes, I heard the criticism—and I joined in. At times I thought I hated you, because what you said and did cut so painfully against my mask, my security, my being.
I miss you very much. Thank you—for who you were and whose you were. You wouldn’t want me to wish you “peace,” and I could never think of you in any misalliance with a false truce or easy compromise.
But I do, with all heart, wish you peace with deep restlessness, a cock crowing at dawn to announce battle, and love to heal all the necessary wounds.
Vinyl, embroidery, 12”x12” / 30”x30”, 2016 *Photo Credit: Matthew Garin
Text and inspiration from the book, Quicksand by Nella Larsen.
Quicksand by Nella Larsen at Bent, But Unbroken Exhibition, 2017
(Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit, MI)
Quicksand follows the life of character, Helga Crane, a woman of mixed, black/white, race during the 1920s who travels from place to place in search of lasting satisfaction that she never finds. She continually explores various predetermined categories for black women and becomes irritable once she runs into their walls. She would experience these moments during artistic happenings in the book such as dancing to jazz at a Harlem cabaret, gospel spirituals sung in a church service and experiencing black performers on stage during a vaudeville performance with a predominantly white audience in Copenhagen. This project focuses on the vaudeville performance and cabaret/jazz scene. In Copenhagen, she realizes that the white audience viewed her the same as the black performers on stage, a spectacle to be entertained and pleased by. In Harlem, after she enjoys dancing freely with other blacks she immediately shuts down her enjoyment by likening herself and those dancing to jungle creatures.
I was initially exposed to Larsen and Quicksand during my Modern Literature course. I enjoyed the author and book so much that I wrote my final essay about them. Here’s the concluding paragraph which may give more insight into this project:
All endings considered, Larsen sets up the reader to create their own next chapter for Helga’s life. The reader is left to wonder themselves about plausible avenues for Helga to travel away from her recurring dissatisfaction. Larsen again traps the reader into traveling with Helga versus observing her from a spectator’s position. Witnessing how Helga wonders and explores various stations in life triggered by irritation encourages the reader to move between their own irritation and wonderment about the available categories for identifying themselves in society. Just as music, specifically The Blues, creates space for outward participation and personal connection, Larsen has created this same space by pulling the readers into Quicksand with Helga. By intermingling her experiences with those of Helga and creating spaces for outside participation, she makes internal insight more accessible in improvisational form. The challenge of traveling the unknown is revealed and made available to those who choose to be dissatisfied with their stability.
Courtney Richardson, April 29, 2016
Essay: 325-326. Helga Nella ENG 5450 (Modern American Literature):
“Feeling Modern: The Affects of Modernity”
Professor Jonathan Flatley
I also enjoyed ngai’s analysis of Quicksand, which I cited in my paper.
*ngai, sianne. Ugly Feelings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print.