Color Impact 2023 was a great success. These pages are left here for archival purposes.

We hope to see you at a future ISCC meeting!

June 11-15, 2023

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA

Presenter - Mary Mann

Mary Mann, Librarian and Archivist

Your Instructor Will Wear Gray: A History of Color Pedagogy at The Cooper Union

The Cooper Union was founded, in 1859, on several radical educational propositions--education for all regardless of race, class or gender; the value of a broadly cast curriculum; and the need for training for industrial design. Today its three schools grant degrees in Art, Architecture (design) and Engineering. Color has been a key component of the curriculum since a photo-color class was introduced in the 1870s. As it evolved, Cooper's "Color course" incorporated work on such other issues as forms in space, music interpretation, and public and private design challenges. Highlights of the history of color pedagogy at The Cooper Union include the early adoption of methodologies developed by Josef Albers in Interaction of Color; the teachings of a perpetually gray-shirted Irwin Rubin in the foundation-year Color course; and color as a topic of public lectures in The Cooper Union's Great Hall and exhibits hosted by The Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration (the collection of which are now held by the Cooper-Hewitt). This presentation will outline the history of color instruction at Cooper Union and point to the ways it has changed over the years, responding to the needs of students and society.


Mary Mann is a librarian and archivist who believes in the utility of investigating the past to better occupy the present. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program and Pratt Institute’s MLIS program, she works as the Archives Librarian at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. She’s authored essays in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Believer, as well as a book: Yawn: Adventures in Boredom.

The Inter-Society Color Council advances the knowledge of color as it relates to art, science, industry and design.
Each of these fields enriches the others, furthering the general objective of color education.


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software