Join us for “Racial Equity in the Arts”: A Session at Reconstructing Practice

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Bianca Nasser June 14, 2018

Last week Designmatters sat down with The Antiracist Classroom to learn about their upcoming covening Reconstructing Practice. Over the next few weeks, Designmatters will share profiles of the impressive group of creatives that will facilitate sessions and share work at the convening this July.

What prevents access, entry, and success in arts and design education for students of color? What policies need to change to make college access and students’ self-determination a reality? What does it take to create a learning environment in which artists and designers of color can thrive? “Racial Equity in the Arts: Access & Open Dialogue as Activism,” a session at Reconstructing Practice on July 13, will explore these questions and work with participants to move toward a new understanding of how we might collectively address them.

This session will be facilitated by Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut (Currently) / Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design (Fall 2018), Kelly Walters; Director of the Parsons Scholars Program and Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design, Nadia Williams; and Program Coordinator at the Parsons Scholars Program, Joelle Riffle. Kelly, Nadia, and Joelle will share reflections and facilitate a generative dialogue centered around two models of initiatives within institutions of higher education that address two primary challenges and experiences with and for students of color. First, access and entry to higher education, and second, the self-determination, the construction of a sustaining community, and institutional shifts that supports students’ ability to learn and thrive as artists or designers once within the institution and beyond

Williams and Riffle will share their experience leading the Parsons Scholars Program, a pre-college program that centers people of color in the exploration of art and design within a college environment. Beyond simply preparing young people for college, Williams and Riffle ask what does it take to adapt policies within the institution, make resources available and accessible, and connect students to peer communities?

Students in the Parsons Scholar Program. Image courtesy of

Walters will provoke similar questions based on her experience serving as Visiting Lecturer in the Graphic Communication Design Course at Central Saint Martins in London.  In this role, she curated the “Open Dialogues: Artists + Designers of Afro-Caribbean Descent”, an exhibition that highlighted the work of Afro-Caribbean artists and designers in the UAL community and explored the shared complexities and nuances of race, identity, politics, gender stereotypes, sexuality and religious views within her student’s art-making practices. Walters will touch on the value of this exhibition for community building and among students of color and others within the institution, especially in predominantly white institutions.

Walters and her students. Photos by Anoushka Khandwala, Dami Vaughan + Moyosore Briggs

Walters and her students. Photo by Anoushka Khandwala. Image courtesy of

Together, these three women will share the process, outcomes, challenges and aftermath of their work with us at Reconstructing Practice. Design is often credited as a force of transformation even though many institutions of design—schools, firms, city offices, nonprofits, and more—still fail to imagine and form themselves into institutions that confront age-old racial hegemonies. Reconstructing Practice seeks to highlight work and creators that offer new, different, and important ways of considering, creating, or encouraging an anti-racist art and design field. For Williams, a priority is “figuring out how to support each other as an outcome of this session.” For the opportunity to collectively imagine what it takes to construct anti-racist art and design education futures, join Williams, Riffle and Walters on July 13th at Reconstructing Practice.

Visit The Antiracist Classroom’s website the full list of the event’s programs and featured artists. Stay tuned for more on sessions and artists to be featured at Reconstructing Practice, and in the meantime be sure to get your tickets: registration closes June 22!