In her article, Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis examined the scientific and cultural discourse of Black feminist art. The author has outlined the cornerstones on which this discourse should be based. According to her, this includes focusing on the artist’s identity and contrasting one’s vision with existing Euro-patriarchal, Afro-patriarchal, and Euro-feministic approaches. This paper aims to summarize and analyze the article “In search of a Discourse and critique/s that center the art of black women artists” by Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis.
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According to the article, Black feminist art should have its unique voice in science and critical discourse since bare presence in such dialogue creates the opportunity for further inquiries and presents distinguished points of view. The author particularly emphasizes that Black feminist cultural and art critics must take full responsibility for the decision to be heard. Further, the researcher calls for the analysis of art in the context of the author’s personality, including gender, class, sexuality, marriage status, age, and their social, political, and cultural reality. She says, “We must be historically specific and aware of the differently oriented social interests within the same sign community” (Tesfagiorgis, 1993, p. 220). The author asserts that there is no need to discuss a ‘Black female’ identity; she also notes that there is no evidence that all women with African roots deeply understand each other for this reason alone.
Then, it is said that Black feminist art discourse should differ from the traditional Euro-centrist approach, rooted in the understanding of art by the Florentines of the Renaissance. The author notes that the Florentines perceived the artist as a genius, inspired by a higher principle and creating masterpieces. However, this scope should not be applied to analyze Black feminist art. The researcher also prescribes to abandon the interpretation of the concept of ‘canon’ as a ‘European canon’ and give full-fledged interpretations of canonical works of art.
Moreover, Black feminist art discourse should include ventricular art as a massive layer of information related to the history, traditions, and origins of African Americans and Africans that live on the North American continent. The scientist paid particular attention to the archeological recovery since she believes that Black feminist art discourse needs to create a “vast body of data for study, interpretation, and evaluation” in this field (Tesfagiorgis, 1993, p. 224). Besides, historical artifacts and stories about the people who owned them should be analyzed in the context of class, gender, and sexuality, as well as race and aesthetics.
The researcher defines seven main criteria for a quality Black feminist art discourse, which include the ideas presented above. She also provides a detailed analysis of the pieces of Lewis and Powers, who had a very different backgrounds. Lewis became known for creating a marble statue of an African woman, Hagar, and this work has intense symbolism. Lewis was inspired by biblical motives that resonate with later historical events, as Hagar was the Egyptian maid of Hebrew Sarah, wife of Abraham.
Further, the author presents an analysis of a craft quilt by Powers, who linked African-American quilting traditions to African textile traditions. The quilt consists of rectangular and square pieces of fabric, each depicting astrological or biblical subjects, and “reveals a dynamically controlled horizontal composition with a limited color scheme, dominated by warm tonalities” (Tesfagiorgis, 1993, p. 229). Thus, the scientist provides an illustrative example of a critical analysis of works of art in the context of Black feminist art discourse.
Thus, the summary of the article “In search of a Discourse and critique/s that center the art of black women artists” by Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis was presented. The paper presents original and practical ideas on which principles the Black feminist art discourse should be based. These postulates prescribe focusing on artists’ personality and social background and liberation from the dogmas, interpretations, and rules of Euro- and Afro-patriarchal and Euro-feminist discourses.
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Tesfagiorgis, F. H. W. (1993). In search of a Discourse and critique/s that center the art of black women artists. Theorizing Black feminisms: The visionary pragmatism of Black women, 217-237.