Audrey G. Bennett is the 2022 recipient of the AIGA Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary. She is a 2015 Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Scholar of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and a 1997 College Art Association Professional Development Fellow. She joined the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design faculty as a full professor with tenure in 2018. She was appointed as an inaugural University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor in 2019.
Currently, Professor Bennett directs Baohouse, a virtual design studio she founded around 2005. Previously she taught for 20 years at Rensselaer in Upstate New York, where she directed the doctoral program in Communication and Rhetoric.
Professor Bennett studies transformative images designed to galvanize “wicked solutions” to wicked problems in society exacerbated or motivated by systemic racism and intersectional oppression. Her design research agenda diverges into theoretical and applied lines of inquiry on the design of “interactive aesthetics” to facilitate cross-cultural communication to yield cognitive and behavioral changes toward equity and justice. Her inquiries include access to museum experiences by blind and partially-blind visitors, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, race and aesthetics (specifically Black and cross-cultural aesthetics), and diversifying STEM.
Her book, Engendering Interaction with Images, was published by Intellect, an imprint of the University of Chicago Press. She edited Design Studies: Theory Research in Graphic Design from Princeton Architectural Press and co-edited the 2011 Design Education Manifesto, published by Icograda. Her other seminal publications include Follow the Golden Ratio from Africa to the Bauhaus for a Cross-Cultural Aesthetic for Images, Towards an Autochthonic Black Aesthetic for Graphic Design Pedagogy, The African Roots of Swiss Design, and The Rise of Research in Graphic Design.
Professor Bennett is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Image and Text (South Africa) and New Design Ideas (Azerbaijan) and a former member of the Board of Directors of the College Art Association, where she served as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Professor Bennett is a naturalized American scholar of Afro-Caribbean descent.
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