Aggie Toppins

Aggie Toppins

Associate Professor & Chair, Sam Fox School/College of Art/Design

My research is a hybrid of communication design practice and writing that advocates for social justice through critical intersections with race, gender, and class.

I collaborate with civic and cultural organizations to design communications that advance human rights and highlight inclusive narratives. Recent collaborations include a branding project with the St. Louis based Women’s Group on Race Relations (WGRR). With Causeway, a Chattanooga based social entrepreneurship incubator, I used co-creative processes to design the branding and store graphics for Bingo’s Market, which addressed a food access issue in a low-income housing unit, and ‘Restore Your Right to Vote!’ a guide that demystified the voting rights restoration process for Tennesseans with felony convictions.

My writing appraises the role of history in design practice, promoting methodologies that prioritize design’s social performance over its formal or material qualities. I seek to decouple design from universalist narratives and mythologies of “genius,” drawing instead on social and cultural theories to explore questions of activism, taste, representation, and meaning-making. Embedded within these inquiries are confrontations with racial capitalism and colonialism.

Faculty webpage