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History of African American Art

ARHA 269
Fall 2021 not offered
Crosslisting: AFAM 208, AMST 248
Course Cluster and Certificates: Animal Studies

This course will introduce students to a history of African American artistic production from the late 18th century to the present, in a range of media and styles. While we will focus primarily on the visual arts--looking at sculpture, painting, photography, collage, film, performance, and installation--we will also consider the deeply interdisciplinary nature of Black cultural production, highlighting the important role of music, poetry, dance, and theater.

We will explore how African American artists, both individually and collectively, have negotiated the terms made available to them by cultural institutions, whether by struggling for inclusion, acknowledgement, and validation; actively protesting racist and exclusionary policies; or by forming alternative institutions, communities, and spaces in which to work and share support. From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement and "post-Black" exhibitions, art works will serve as a primary source to ask, is there such a thing as a "Black aesthetic" and if so, how would one define it? Why might an African American artist reject such an idea? Other key questions will include: What is the role of visual representation in political struggle? How have artists mobilized portraiture as a tool of liberation? What does it mean to turn away from figuration, toward abstraction or opacity? How have artists grappled with questions of nationhood, belonging, and diaspora?

Together, we will trace how artistic forms, techniques, and motifs have served both as sites of collective history and as speculative propositions to envision new futures, articulating what Robin D.G. Kelley calls "freedom dreams."
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode:
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFAM-MN)(AFAM)(AMST)(ANST-MN)(ARHA-MN)(ARHA)(ARST)

Last Updated on DEC-02-2023
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