PhD candidate Courtney Richardson defended her dissertation, "Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand," on December 8.
Her committee included Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre (chair and director of research); Professor Emerita Linda C. Smith; Blair Ebony Smith, assistant professor of art education and gender and women's studies, UIUC; and Safiya U. Noble, David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles.
Abstract: "Art as Information: Re-reading Quicksand" is a micro-study of an African American cultural narrative through artmaking. Specifically, Courtney demonstrates how art practices—within graphic design and fabric-textile arts—are incorporated into the everyday acts of reading and knowledge production (such as storytelling and personal archiving). This dissertation involves making graphical and textual artworks that reinterpret and analyze stories and archives embedded within Quicksand (1928), a fictional and autobiographical novel by Nella Larsen. Larsen's life and creative storytelling provide paths for how we may study cultural heritages and knowledges concerning African American womanhood and wellness. Courtney also reintroduces the subfield of Art as Information to examine how we may review such stories that have been historically silenced and disfigured by demonstrating the liberatory aspects of artmaking to intercept and dismantle exploitative narratives affixed to marginalized groups.