In 21st century America, questions of race and identity are being explored as never before. This exploration has prompted many artists of color to investigate what constitutes identity, community, and the idea of a so-called “post-racial” society. Constructing Identity brings together paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings by prominent contemporary African-American artists along with a selection of historical works from the 1930s, 1940s, and the Civil Rights era.
Drawing from the Petrucci Family Foundation collection, Constructing Identity features works by more than 80 artists including Henry Ossawa Tanner, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Faith Ringgold, Radcliffe Bailey, Kara Walker, and Mickalene Thomas as well as John Biggers, Barbara Bullock, David Driskell, Joyce Scott, and Sonya Clark, among others. The exhibition brings awareness to the contributions of black artists whose work is often historically underrepresented in museums and galleries, fostering a more complete understanding of African-American art. As part of a growing and more thoughtful dialogue about the African-American experience through art, Constructing Identity seeks to visually represent a cross-section of themes that speak not only to the African-American community, but also to the broader American community.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, African-American Art: A Visual and Cultural History offers a current and comprehensive history that contextualizes black artists within the framework of American art as a whole. The first chronological survey covering all art forms from colonial times to the present to publish in over a decade, it explores issues of racial identity and representation in artistic expression, while also emphasizing aesthetics and visual analysis to help students develop an understanding and appreciation of African-American art that is informed but not entirely defined by racial identity. Through a carefully selected collection of creative works and accompanying analyses, the text also addresses crucial gaps in the scholarly literature, incorporating women artists from the beginning and including coverage of photography, crafts, and architecture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as twenty-first century developments. All in all, the book provides a fresh and compelling look at the great variety of artistic expression found in the African-American community.
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