This month, students in Ms. Miller’s Media Arts II class are embarking on a data visualization project, in which they’ll design infographics about a topic of their choice. To ground their study in the history of data visualization, students studied “Visualizing Black America,” a series of data portraits presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition by sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois.
The work (much of which was designed by Du Bois’s students) was groundbreaking in its use of color, form, and typography, but was largely overshadowed by European schools and designers — who, years and even decades after the Paris Exhibition, produced similar styles of work with much greater recognition in design history. As students prepared to brainstorm their own data visualization projects, Ms. Miller reflected on the history of social design activism, and encouraged students to take note of the innovative methods used to make the exhibit’s data digestible, emotionally resonant, and interactive. We look forward to seeing what our graphic design students will produce!