‘Black Suburbia’

Exhibition Design

Design for an exhibition at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center, examining the complex narrative of the African-American suburb from the 20th century to today.

Black Suburbia: From Levittown to Ferguson is an exhibition presented by The New York Public Library's Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, one of the leading institutions focusing exclusively on African-American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The exhibition examines the complex narrative of the African-American suburb from the 20th century to today, looking to communities such as Hempstead, NY, Ferguson, MO, and Shaker Heights, OH, as case studies for a contradictory yet hopeful dream. Pentagram designed exhibition graphics and print materials for Black Suburbia which address the unique triumphs and challenges of the black suburban struggle.

Developed in collaboration with the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, Black Suburbia, tackles issues such as suburban segregation, institutional discrimination, and residential racism in black communities from the late 1800s to current day. The designers wanted to stress the severity of these issues in the exhibition's logo, which sets type within an upside-down American flag. The application references the United States Flag Code, which states that the flag "should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." The red stripes of the flag are echoed throughout the titling of the exhibition.

The exhibition equally addresses black empowerment and strength in spite of the volatile mission to build stable communities. Several sections relating to key individuals and movements in black suburbs are introduced with house-shaped structures made of bare wood, representing the foundational roots of construction and community.

New York
Eddie Opara
Project team
Brankica Harvey
Pedro Mendes
Jack Collins
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