Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists

By Jontyle Theresa Robinson | Go to book overview

WARRIOR WOMEN:
Art as Resistance

BEVERLY GUY-SHEFTALL

We ought to stop thinking we have to do the art of other people. We have to create an art for liberation and for life.

Elizabeth Catlett, 1971

After I decided to be an artist, the first thing that I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene and that I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness, or my femaleness, or my humanity.

Faith Ringgold, 1985

Every time I think about color it's a political statement. It would be a luxury to be white and never to think about it.

Emma Amos, 1993

TWO OF the most significant events in recent United States history -- the civil rights and women's movements -- have had a profound impact on contemporary African American women artists. While considerable attention has been paid to the racial politics of the image-making of black women artists and their role in the black arts movement, they have been absent, for the most part, in histories of black feminism and the development of the feminist art movement. In her groundbreaking essays on "Afrofemcentrism" and "Black feminist art-historical discourse," artist and critic Freida High Tesfagiorgis articulates a unique method for analyzing black women artists which simultaneously considers the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality. 1 This black feminist critique is long overdue, she argues, because "much of what has been written lies within the history of African American art, is secondary to male production, and for the most part is without critiques of class, gender and sexuality . . ." 2

Sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett comes to mind most immediately in an analysis of black feminist impulses in the visual art of African American artists. Her pioneering 1946-47 series, The Negro Woman (fifteen linocuts, later named The Black Woman Speaks), challenged the stereotypical, non-heroic treatment of black women, which characterized Western art for decades, by portraying them as strong, beautiful, political, creative, and intelligent. In fact, women of color, particularly ordinary women such as those portrayed in Tired (terracotta, 1946), The Survivor (linocut, 1983), Nina (linocut, n.d.), and Sharecropper (linocut, 1968) (fig. 1) were the primary subjects of her prints and sculptures. She was unapologetic about her focus on women:

I don't have anything against men, but since I am a woman, I know more about women and I know how they feel. Many artists are always doing men. I think that somebody ought to do women. . . . I think there is a need to express something about the working-class black woman and that's what I do. 3

A self-defined feminist, she espoused her commitment to the eradication of the oppression of women, particularly black and Latin American women, whose struggles were different from middle-class white women:

I am interested in women's liberation for the fulfillment of women; not just for jobs and equality with men and so on, but for what they can contribute to enrich the world, humanity. Their contributions have been denied them. It's the same thing that happens to black people. . . . I think that the male is aggressive and he has a male supremacist idea in his head, at least in the United States and Mexico. We need to know more about women. 4

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Dedication 5
  • Acknowledgments 5
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Foreword 11
  • The Visual Education of Spelman Women 12
  • Notes 13
  • Passages - A Curatorial Viewpoint 15
  • Notes 36
  • Warrior Women: Art as Resistance 39
  • Notes 47
  • Triumphant Determination: the Legacy of African American Women Artists 49
  • Notes 78
  • African American Women Artists - Into the Twenty-First Century 83
  • Notes 93
  • Hagar's Daughters: Social History, Cultural Heritage, and Afro-U.S. Women's Art 95
  • Notes 108
  • Illustrations and Biographies 113
  • Afterword 161
  • Chronology 162
  • Selected Bibliography 165
  • List of Illustrations 172
  • Index 174
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 176

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.