So What Have We Learned: Black Visual Cultures @ UD

Exhibition Website

So What Have We Learned highlights synergies between the collections of University of Delaware’s University Museums and Library Special Collections, Manuscripts, and Archives. Focused on African American art and Black visual culture, the selection process for the exhibition began in Special Collections with the formative question: what materials express Black visual culture?

Visual and historical cues for the exhibition radiate from Phillis Wheatley’s 1773 Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral with: an engraved portrait of Wheatley; photographic imagery in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1906 When Malindy Sings; a 1920 blueprint for the Colored School in Newark, Delaware; broadsides by African American poets and typographers; and Black Panther ephemera.

Combined with selections from the African American art collection, such as Wendel A. White’s Schools for the Colored series (2007-16), and Faith Ringgold’s Henry Ossawa Tanner: His Boyhood Dreams Come True (2010) many of the chosen works emphasize early childhood and education. Noteworthy contributions by UD faculty and alums reinforce core exhibition themes of cultural agency and visual politics.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

 Whether or not you go, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture provides a comprehensive and engaging overview of how we understand a wide array of visual media and how we use images to express ourselves, to communicate, to play, and to learn. Visual culture is central to how we communicate. Our lives are dominated by images and by visual technologies that allow for the local and global circulation of ideas, information, and politics. In this increasingly visual world, how can we best decipher and understand the many ways that our everyday lives are organized around looking practices and the many images we encounter each day.

Using clear, accessible language, vivid examples, and more than 250 full-color illustrations, the authors explain and apply theory as they discuss how we see paintings, prints, photographs, film, television, video, advertisements, the news, the Internet, digital media, and visualization techniques in medicine and science. This interdisciplinary text bridges art history, film, media, and cultural studies to investigate how images carry meaning within and between different cultural arenas in everyday life, from art and commerce to science and the law. Sturken and Cartwright analyze images in relation to a wide spectrum of cultural and representational issues (desire, power, the gaze, bodies, sexuality, and ethnicity) and methodologies (semiotics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and postcolonial theory).

Thoroughly updated to incorporate cutting-edge theoretical research, the second edition examines the following new topics: the surge of new media technologies; the impact of globalization on the flow of information and media form and content; and how nationalism and security concerns have changed our looking practices in the aftermath of 9/11. 

Beautifully designed and now in a larger format and in full color throughout, Practices of Looking is an invaluable guide to understanding the complexities, contradictions, and pleasures of the visual world.

Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture

  • Ethnic / Gender
  • Wendel A. White
  • Faith Ringgold
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates