September 8, 2015

'Design + Social Justice' symposium is Sept. 15-16

“We Shall Survive Without a Doubt” by Emory Douglas. Back cover of The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, Vol. VI, No. 30, Aug. 21, 1971, offset lithograph, © Emory Douglas.

The graphic design program in UNL’s Department of Art and Art History will host a symposium titled “Design + Social Justice” Sept. 15-16. All events are free and open to the public.

The events and exhibitions of the symposium will highlight the visual communications, stories and portraits of revolutionary social movements and will examine how graphic design is a tool for organizing and inspiring people to act.

Graphic design artifacts, which include buttons, brochures, flyers, street signs, posters and underground newspapers, have been created throughout history to communicate about social causes.

“These graphically designed objects were tools of visual communications and were essential to the organization of social movements,” said Stacy Asher, an assistant professor of art.

The graphic artifacts that will be exhibited during the symposium represent the role of art as a revolutionary force, and how art and design can communicate about a need for social change. The symposium will examine the role of graphic design in creating messages that promote civil and human rights, preservation of the environment and advocacy of equal opportunity.

The featured guest speaker and visiting artist will be Emory Douglas, a former Minister of Culture and artist of the Black Panther Party. In May, Douglas received The Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the most distinguished award in the field of graphic design. His work will be exhibited at the Sheldon Museum of Art through Jan. 3, 2016, and he will be in residence in the Department of Art and Art History from Sept. 14-16.

Douglas will present a free public lecture at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15 in Sheldon’s auditorium.

Also attending will be photographer Suzun Lucia Lamaina, a former colleague and student of Farm Security Administration photographer John Collier. Lamaina will be presenting an exhibition of current portraits of former members of the Black Panther Party at Love Library through Oct. 30.

Assistant professors of art Aaron Sutherlen and Asher are designing a book of these portraits and the members’ stories titled “Revolutionary Grain: Celebrating the Spirit of the Black Panther Party in Portraits and Stories,” which will be published in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party in October 2016.

An exhibition of underground newspapers from the ’60s and ’70s, from the collection of Black Panther Party Historian Billy X Jennings, will be on display at Love Library through Oct. 30.

Additionally, a collection of graphic design activism for a variety of exhibitions, organizations and causes by Justin Kemerling, an independent designer, activist and collaborator in Omaha, will be on display at Love Library through Oct. 30. Kemerling works with community organizations, political campaigns and change-making startups. His self-initiated projects explore ways to move forward important causes and ideas with design, art and other forms of creative expression.

Douglas, Lamaina, Jennings and Kemerling will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Patrick Jones, an associate professor of history and ethnic studies, on 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16 in Love Library’s auditorium. The panel discussion will follow a reception from 4-5:30 p.m. on the second floor of Love Library for the exhibitions on display.

The symposium will be sponsored by the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Visiting Artist Program, Institute for Ethnic Studies, Love Library and the Faculty Senate Convocations Committee. The Sheldon Museum of Art, Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment have also provided generous support.

For a full listing of “Design + Social Justice” symposium events, go to