Red | Lines

At the beginning of the fall semester, the Maryland Institute College of Art hosts a juried show showcasing some of the graduate program's first year students. For the 2019 show, the theme was Red | Lines. Through the show, the curator, Legacy Russell, brought forth the history of redlining in the United States. She opened up the conversation of segregation of site and space to this group of artists who brought in their own local and international perspectives. Through the show, it was highlighted how these divisions and geopolitical struggles span across the globe.

I worked with the curator to develop a branding and design system for the show, that unified the exhibition design and catalogues. The challenge was to create a language that brought together an otherwise distinct group of artists with unique styles of work under one umbrella.

Legacy Russell


“From 1951 to 1971, 25,000 families were displaced in Baltimore, lines made with the goal of building new schools, housing projects, and highways. 80 to 90 percent of those families were black. These were neighborhoods that were cut up and broken down, disintegrated and devalued, these lines a cornering of a population, an active denial of a history. To call on a term coined by sociologist John McKnight in the 1960s, this was redlining.”


Visual Identity

For a contextual and visual reference, I didn’t have to look any further than Baltimore’s history of redlining, one of the most evident examples of institutionalised racism in the United States. The redlined map of the city from 1937, which the federal, local and private entities used to deny services and rights to select neighbourhoods, and has largely led to the racial wealth gap in the country to date(read more),  was my main point of reference.

I created a leading visual by juxtaposing the deconstructed structure of MICA against the redlined map, almost as if the show is a contemplation of the institute’s and its students’ place in the larger context that is the city. The colours and textures have also been derived from the map.

A Home Owners Loan Corporation 1937 map of Baltimore shows the “least desirable neighborhoods” identified in red. Source:blogs.jhu.edu