Ph.D. Work

Presenting at the ALISE 2023 Conference

Green and white poster with multiple images, photos, and graphics. Images of books, archival papers, zine designs, and flower illustrations.
(Image of conference poster outlining my dissertation, “Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand”. Printed at 42″ x 36″. Click image to zoom-in.)

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.

[UPDATE: Abstract published in ALISE Proceedings: | Direct PDF link.]

*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).

(You may also view my extended abstracts from my previous blog post.)


1. Zine for Literature Reference:
Saïd the Fisherman, Marmaduke Pickethall

Photos of messy work area with collage of book and image clippings, cutting mat, scissors, glue. Various views of handmade zine.

Centerfold of 3 handmade zines with similar collaged images

2. Zine for Literature Reference:
“The Procurator of Judea”, Anatole France

Photos digitally printed zine with cover and page spreads


Graphic Process for Symbol/metaphor reference (nasturtiums)

Photos of faux nasturtium plant with sketch and tracing paper with drawings
(Drawing process for icons of nasturtium)
images of two sketch pages
(Sample of process sketches for 104 iterations of nasturtium plant)
images of icons with text and sketch pages spread across floor.
(Drop cap iteration—early typography work and cropped photo of all icon iterations.)

Dissertation Proposal: 2023 Litwin Books Award

Screenshot of Litwin Books Press Release article from website. Black and orange text on white background.
(Screenshot of Litwin Books online Press Release.)

Happy to announce that I won an award for my proposal this summer! 😀

Check out Litwin Books press release:

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.

Dissertation Proposal: Art as Information

Black abstract flower illustration on pale yellow background with title slide text in black and navy blue.
(Graphic of my presentation title slide.)

*Skip to end for description of my dissertation!

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.

Art Education Comrades:
Paulina Valencia Camacho, Catalina Hernandez-Cabal, Angela Inez Baldus, Shavani Bhalla

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


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 here are my initial selection of folk to recognize. Thank you.

Re-embodying Historical Data with Art and Design

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?

*Also see this post on PAGE’s website along with the 9 other wonderful PAGE Fellows! (

Intersecting Black Histories, Art Practice, and Information History

Photograph of artwork entitled, Name Travel

Blog post written for 2020–21 PAGE Fellowship
(Publicly Active Graduate Education)

08.24.2020 // PAGE Blog Salon, online publication

Read full post here:

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. [, accessed 8 January 2021]