Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Strategies of Being: African American Artists of the 20th Century
This class explores the multiple ways in which American artists of African descent have resisted, revised, contended with, and re-imagined how race defines the limits and possibilities artistic production and interpretation. We will investigate how race — as an ideology of deployed to enforce essential bodily differences — possesses a doubled-edged capacity to both empower and constrain the work of artists marked as "black" or "African American." Our discussions will focus primarily on moments in the 20th century in which artistic production and identity politics converge, paying close attention to historical circumstances and critical voices involved in framing the African American artist. We will look closely at a range of practices (painting, graphic arts, assemblage, performance, installation) by artists such as Aaron Douglas, Romare Bearden, Adrian Piper, Kara Walker, and Thornton Dial among others, grappling with difficult questions as we navigate the complex cultural terrain troubled by racial thought, art historical canons, and histories of enslavement and diaspora.
A staged process of writing, and peer review will provide the opportunity for students to integrate lessons in close looking, visual analysis, interpretation, and research, culminating in a 10-15 page research paper. This course fulfills part B of the R&C requirement.