Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists / Edition 1

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Creating Their Own Image marks the first comprehensive history of African-American women artists, from slavery to the present day. Using an analysis of stereotypes of Africans and African-Americans in western art and culture as a springboard, Lisa E. Farrington here richly details hundreds of important works—many of which deliberately challenge these same identity myths, of the carnal Jezebel, the asexual Mammy, the imperious Matriarch—in crafting a portrait of artistic creativity unprecedented in its scope and ambition. In these lavishly illustrated pages, some of which feature images never before published, we learn of the efforts of Elizabeth Keckley, fashion designer to Mary Todd Lincoln; the acclaimed sculptor Edmonia Lewis, internationally renowned for her neoclassical works in marble; and the artist Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and her innovative teaching techniques. We meet Laura Wheeler Waring who portrayed women of color as members of a socially elite class in stark contrast to the prevalent images of compliant maids, impoverished malcontents, and exotics "others" that proliferated in the inter-war period. We read of the painter Barbara Jones-Hogu's collaboration on the famed Wall of Respect, even as we view a rare photograph of Hogu in the process of painting the mural. Farrington expertly guides us through the fertile period of the Harlem Renaissance and the "New Negro Movement," which produced an entirely new crop of artists who consciously imbued their work with a social and political agenda, and through the tumultuous, explosive years of the civil rights movement. Drawing on revealing interviews with numerous contemporary artists, such as Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Nanette Carter, Camille Billops, Xenobia Bailey, and many others, the second half of Creating Their Own Image probes more recent stylistic developments, such as abstraction, conceptualism, and post-modernism, never losing sight of the struggles and challenges that have consistently influenced this body of work. Weaving together an expansive collection of artists, styles, and periods, Farrington argues that for centuries African-American women artists have created an alternative vision of how women of color can, are, and might be represented in American culture. From utilitarian objects such as quilts and baskets to a wide array of fine arts, Creating Their Own Image serves up compelling evidence of the fundamental human need to convey one's life, one's emotions, one's experiences, on a canvas of one's own making.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists is an exemplary piece of scholarship. Rich in information and images, it is contextualized in socio-economic, political and artistic facts. This tome is a brilliant history reflecting the aesthetics and the social and metaphysical traditions of African-American women artists and their artistry. A Must Read!!"—Tritobia Hayes-Benjamin, Howard University

Farrington's survey work fills gaps in the history of American art, and should keep these artists from being overlooked in the future."—CHOICE

"A clearly written and beautifully illustrated text that presents the myriad and nuanced experiences, visions, and talents of African-American women artists."—April F. Masten, Reviews in American History

"From 'women's work' in fabric art of the slavery era to 'post-black' artists working in a stunning range of styles and mediums, Lisa Farrington's Creating Their Own Image presents an important survey of the extraordinary contributions African-American women artists—-unknown and known, past and present—-have made and continue to make to our visual culture. This is a book we will consult, and enjoy, often."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

"Farrington gives the reader a layered narrative and a dazzling array of artworks.... It is the kind of book anyone interested in art, women's art, or African American art will want to own and refer to constantly. Anyone teaching women's studies, gender studies, or African American women's studies will want to own this as well."—History

"This is the book that teachers and students have been waiting for. Farrington provides a cohesive, accessible, and historically contextualized overview of the work of African-American women artists. And she offers here as well a thought-provoking analysis of how the politics of modernism and postmodernism have affected their most recent efforts to gain control over 'their own image.'"—Norma Broude, Professor of Art History, American University and Co-editor, The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact

"A captivating and thorough study of a long-ignored aspect of America's art highly recommended for all academic and public libraries."—CHOICE

"Lisa Farrington has left few, if any, stones unturned as she surveys the significant contribution that African American women artists have made to world art. Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists cogently tells it all. This book is a must for all who wish to enhance their knowledge of American art."—David C. Driskell, Distinguished University Professor of Art, Emeritus, University of Maryland

Publishers Weekly
Although it arrives at the 1960s only a third of the way in, this first textbook on African-American women artists is brimming with discoveries. Farrington, who teaches a course (from which this book takes its name) at New York's Parsons School of Design, proceeds roughly chronologically, beginning with Reconstruction-era weaving and quilt work by artists like Kentucky's Louiza Francis Combs and with the marble sculpture of Edmonia Lewis. Few of the names are familiar, and few of the works in conventional media arresting, until Farrington reaches contemporary pieces and artists. Farrington is the author of two monographs on painter Faith Ringgold, and her appreciation for and mastery of recent work comes through on every page. Most of the 150 color and 100 b&w reproductions, generally placed at the margins of the text but sized generously, are from this period, from Carol Ann Carter's installations to Laylah Ali's colorful and disturbing graphic work. The result makes for a terrific introduction to contemporary art by African-American women as informed by a legacy that is just beginning to be pieced together and understood. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Farrington (art, race, & gender issues, Parsons Sch. of Design) has produced a captivating and thorough study of a long-ignored aspect of America's art history. Timed to coincide with a November 10 exhibition of nearly 50 works at the Parsons Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, this book centers on the lives and works of female African American artists and represents an extraordinary range of styles and subjects, with much of the art relating directly to the artist's gender, ethnic ancestry, and social conditions. Farrington begins with a succinct critical essay on the depiction of Africans and African Americans in Western art, followed by chapters surveying an array of female African American artists from the slave era to the late 20th century, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Faith Ringgold, and Carrie Mae Weems. Further on, several chapters detail developments of the last few decades. Though some of the illustrations are rather small, and the reader may wish for even more reproductions to study and appreciate, this book is highly recommended for all academic and public libraries.-Eugene C. Burt, Cornish Coll. of the Arts, Seattle Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195167214
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/26/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 11.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa E. Farrington is Chairperson and Professor in the Department of Art & Music at John Jay College. Her books include Faith Ringgold and Art on Fire: The Politics of Race and Sex in the Paintings of Faith Ringgold.

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Table of Contents

1 The image 8
2 Creativity and the era of slavery 26
3 The nineteenth-century professional vanguard 50
4 The Harlem Renaissance and the new Negro 76
5 The new Negro and the New Deal 96
6 Civil rights and black power 116
7 Black feminist art 146
8 Abstract explorations 174
9 Conceptualism : art as idea 204
10 Vernacular artists : against the odds 230
11 Postmodern pluralism 250
12 "Post-black" art and the new millennium 280
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