• With a Cast of Colored Stars
    Sakshi Agarwal, Malini Chandra, Chango Cummings, Iman Diarra, Hana Lanzkowsky, Staicy Ngongu, Albert Parson, and Sean Phan
    Kelly Walters
    Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, New York
    Feb 12, 2022 to Mar 02, 2022
    Kelly Walters

Kelly Walters, “With a Cast of Colored Stars, No. 3,” 2019. Risograph Print, 11 x 17 in. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kelly Walters

This exhibition includes a selection of works across a variety of mediums—including zines, newspaper broadsides, posters, video installations, web-based projects, patterned textiles, and photography—that draw inspiration from Black film posters of the 1920s through the Blaxploitation era. The title of this exhibition is directly inspired by Oscar Micheaux films—such as Swing! (1938), The Exile (1931), and Underworld (1937)—and aims to recontextualize the linguistic phrases used to reinforce segregation in promotional film advertisements during the Jim Crow era. This text can be found in multiple sources and allows us to closely examine how Black film studios used phrases such as “an all colored cast” or “with a cast of colored stars” to speak primarily to a Black audience. The exhibited content primarily focuses around the print ephemera from selected films, methods of communication and forms of dissemination around Black media, shifts in important cultural symbols used to define Blackness in design, and institutional ideologies that have shaped their formation.

Kelly Walters is an artist, designer, educator, researcher, and founder of Bright Polka Dot. Her practice includes teaching, writing, and experimental publishing, with a particular focus on race and representation in design. Her ongoing design research interrogates the complexities of identity formation, systems of value, and the shared vernacular in and around Black visual culture. Walters has worked as a designer for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Rhose Island School of Design Museum, Alexander Isley, Inc. Designers, and Blue State. In 2015, she completed her master’s degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design. She was awarded an Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) Teaching Fellowship in the Graphic Design program at California College of the Arts from 2015–16. She has previously taught at the University of Bridgeport, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Connecticut and Central Saint Martins. She is currently an assistant professor of communication design and the associate director of the undergraduate Communication Design Program at Parsons School of Design in New York.