In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois famously proclaimed, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” Just a few years before those words were published, Du Bois was instrumental in organizing a series of data visualizations on the progress of Black peoples after Emancipation, rendering in stark relief the dynamic participation of Black peoples in American social and economic life and their global participation in science, literature, and art.
In this online talk, artist William Villalongo and urbanist Shraddha Ramani will discuss the enduring importance of Du Bois’s archive of 63 data visualizations and introduce their new project Printing Black America: W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits in the 21st Century, a visual archive of data portraits using printmaking and contemporary data visualization practices. This print project reimagines and recontextualizes Du Bois’s data portraits plate by plate, conducting research in partnership with the USF Department of Anthropology, School of Social Work, and the Judy Genshaft Honors College. This interdisciplinary undertaking is a model for the critical possibilities found at the intersections of art and social science to render portraits of Black life in 21st century America.