Art School at African American Studies: Process, Discourse, Infrastructure

Combining actual making with art criticism and an examination of the circulation of contemporary art, particularly the of work of black artists, this seminar is structured around fundamental art concepts such as line, color, illustration, abstraction, multiples, beauty, and meaning. Given the historical centrality in African American art of representations of black bodies, the course pays special attention to figuration and portraiture. Its aim is not to make skilled artists, but to provide a materials-based, tactile experience of art making and its evaluation.

Sample reading list:
David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., The Image of the Black in Western Art: The Twentieth Century
Nav Haq, ed., Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff
Anne D’Alleva, Look! The Fundamentals of Art History
Richard J. Powell, Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture
Olav Velthuis, Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices
Kellie Jones, Eye Minded: Writing and Living Contemporary Art
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students will read and discuss their reading in the traditional way–as well-informed critics. They will make art which will be subject to regular crits where students will put their work up on the wall and speak about its process, meaning, and place in art history. The 7 crits, the final project, and the short papers account for about 70% of the grade, the rest being class participation and art projects.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
This course doesn’t aim to make skilled artists. Rather, it will make for a well-informed audience for contemporary art that understands the place of black artists in the wider art world(s)..

Other information:
Students will work in teams of two per session, making art, reading, and discussing it. Art work and writing will be subject to regular crits. Mondays will be studio days; on Wednesdays we will hold crits, discuss readings, and visit galleries and museums. Students will keep regular journals as the raw material for their midterm assignment, a personal musée imaginaire of preferred artists, and final project of art and art criticism.





Mondays & Wednesdays, 1:30 - 2:50 pm


Nell Painter