A Proclamation in Type and Image Form
Bridging education and practice, Silas Munro applies design to inspire people to better themselves and improve society. His studio, poly-mode helps organizations embrace cultural diversity and increase community involvement. In a series of contexts, design helps transform the lives of homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, shapes containers for a Los Angeles artist advocating for women of color and vulnerable bodies in Italy, supports community access to art in Inglewood, and rewrites the legacy of 20th-century modernism by expanding design history to include the activist data visualization of W.E.B. Du Bois and his students of color.
Silas Munro holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from CalArts. He has earned a Design fellowship at the Walker Art Center, been a Designer-in-Residence at NC State, and Design Director at Housing Works. Munro’s design studio Poly-Mode has designed identities and publications for exhibitions of Jacob Lawrence at MoMA, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale, and a forthcoming commission, The Great Force for the ICA at VCU in 2019. Munro’s writing appears in Slanted, the Walker Reader, and the book W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America published by Princeton Architectural Press. Munro has shown in juried group shows at CalArts and RISD. He has served as a critic at CalArts, MICA, VCU, and Yale School of Art. Munro is Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art and Design and Advisor and Chair Emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts. www.poly-mode.com
This is the inaugural talk of the Matthias Kemeny Design Lecture Series which is coordinated and managed by the Portland State Graphic Design program. This series brings internationally celebrated design professionals annually to Portland to give a lecture for the benefit of the students and faculty in the Graphic Design program, as well as the broader design community. This series is free and open to the public and highlights a wide range of design practices in an attempt to facilitate a community-wide dialogue about design and related fields.
About the philanthropist: Matthias Kemeny was born on July 25th, 1942 in Auxerre, France to a Hungarian father and German-Polish mother. He was educated as an artist and designer, earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University in 1973. Matthias combined his talents in the arts with this entrepreneurial skills to build a very successful exhibition and display business, producing fine and commercial art for more than 40 years. His work can be found across the globe, from museums in his home state of Washington, too as far away as Pakistan. He was never at a loss for ideas and authored several patents, many of which are still in use. He was talented, creative and innovative.
A world traveler much of his life, Matthias would sketch in pen and ink on table napkin drawings of the people he saw on his travels. Late in his life, he culminated his dream of transforming these line sketches into a catalogue of painted drawings which he called “Collecting Souls.” These portraits speak to the commonality of the human race. These works conveyed a simple yet powerful message of his love for humanity.
A powerful yet gentle man, Matthias was intensely focused and strongly committed to making the world a better place. His intellectual curiosity was remarkable, as was his genuine, deep interest in every person he met. He continued life-long friendships with diverse people from all over the world.
Matthias Kemeny passed away from ALS in March of 2007.
Made possible by the Matthias D. Kemeny Charitable Fund of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation