Roma and African Americans share a common struggle, say Cornel West and Margarete Matache

Cornel West has co-authored an article with Margareta Matache, a Roma rights activist and scholar: it was published in The Guardian last Tuesday. As is always the case with Guardian comments, these are as illuminating to read as the article itself. So are the silences of removed and presumably wack comments: there must be at least a half dozen iterations of “This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards.”

It’s been 25 years since West’s Race Matters was first published in 1998; a new edition with a forward by West. In a new introduction for this anniversary edition, West writes: “Race matters in the twenty-first century are part of a moral and spiritual war over resources, power, souls, and sensibilities.” The introductory chapter focuses on US history–distant and past–and the shout outs are issued mostly to US-based academics and activists. Yet as he has for the last decades, West makes his target imperialism which is phenomenon worked out in a number of national varieties. It’s no doubt useful to call out imperialism in the name of anti-racism: West writes that “[r]ace matters are an integral part–though not sole part–of empire matters” and that “imperial democracy has its own structures of domination.”

A decisive turn to critical race art history in Europe was evident in Saturday’s College Art Association conference panel, “Critical Race Art Histories in German, Scandinavia, and Central Europe,” sponsored by the Historian of German, Scandinavian, and Central European Art and Architecture, which, like ACRAH, is a CAA Affiliated Society.

 

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A page from Herman Lundborg’s The Swedish Nation and Racial Types (1921), posted at Anthroscape.

This constellation of images is interesting not only because of the project to illustrate perceived mixed race and mixed ethnic appearances, Casta painting-like, but also because some subjects were presented frontally and in profile while others are not. Is “gipsy-ness” obvious enough in the top right frontal portrait? We can head back to Allan Sekula’s “The Body and the Archive” , an examination of the taxonomic photo. Yet, there was something else happening in the many nineteenth- and twetienth-century drawings and prints. (A Google Image search will yield a good number of these representations.) Seems like many Western artists chose the 3/4 profile view to demonstrate ethno-racial particularity. Why? One ear tells all? The shadow on one cheek is more than enough?

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Art Historian Helen M. Shannon’s Passing

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Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D., flanked by Dr. David Milburn and Cecile Keith Brown, date unknown. Source: Dr. David Milburn Legacy Award webpage. Photographer’s name not known.

 

It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Helen M. Shannon, Ph.D. The photo was likely taken when Helen worked in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Education Department, 1976-87, according to her LinkedIn page.

We have suffered a profound loss in our field and it will be felt among those with whom she worked. A few years back, a former student wrote that Helen Shannon had been an important mentor, calling her “one of the most inspirational career driven women I have ever met. I have never had a professor who has pushed me so hard to succeed, and I will be forever grateful to the role she has played in the development of my career as I pursue my Master’s Degree.” Helen inspired many of us, and she will not be forgotten.

Mark Campbell of the University of Arts, where Helen was Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. Program in Museum Studies, has written this account of his colleague:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of
Associate Professor Helen Shannon. Helen has been a well-respected
member of the UArts faculty since joining the University in 2006,
directing the Museum Education program within Museum Studies, and
since fall 2013 serving as coordinator of Graduate Studies. An
accomplished educator and museum professional, Helen has had a deep
and lasting effect on the scholarship and professional training in her
field.

Helen received a BA from Stanford University, an MA from the
University of Chicago, and a PhD from Columbia University – all in Art
History. Her dissertation was titled “Race and cultural nationalism in
the American modernist reception of African art.”  Notable
professional appointments include executive director of the New Jersey
State Museum and educator in charge, Office of Public Programs, at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freelance curatorial work includes “In the
Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” a
Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, and “Biennial 2000: At
the Crossroads,” for the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

In 2015 Helen published, “Norman Lewis: Presence and Absence” as part
of “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis” (University of California
Press – Ruth Fine Editor). She was in the process of completing an
important book in the field of Museum Education, “History and
Understanding of Museum Learning.”  Active in the museum world through
lectures and symposia, Helen has served on many boards including
current appointments with the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums and
the African American Museum.  She was also an ongoing member of the
African American Collection Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of
Art.

Within the UArts community and beyond, Helen was a respected scholar,
known for her integrity, grace and solid professionalism. She
instilled in her many students a tenacious work ethic, deep respect
for knowledge, and an awareness of the central role that museums play
in the enrichment of our lives.

An event celebrating the life of Helen Shannon will be announced to
the community in the coming weeks.”

 

– –Mark Campbell, Dean

College of Art, Media & Design

The University of the Arts

320 Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19102

215.717.6120

uarts.edu

 

 

IMAGE BELOW: From the award-winning exhibition catalogueProcession: The Art of Norman Lewis (2015). Source: GoogleBooks.

 

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Marvel executive says emphasis on diversity may have alienated readers

How many things can be blamed on diversity?

Sian Cain’s article in today’s Guardian makes it clear that Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel’s reasoning isn’t reasoned. Recently, Gabriel told a gathering that some comic store owners say their customers “have had enough” of new female and ethnic minority characters.

What customers?

Is there a limit to diversity?

Gabriel is not alone in the effort to make diversity appear unprofitable and to present good diversity practices as charitable acts. . .and bad business. Such false beliefs are widespread. Yet, they are counter to research that proves otherwise.

As always, the comments from Guardian readers are worth perusing.  There’re more than 1,000 of them to date. These letters provide great fodder for thinking about the power of representation and the shifts in visual culture.

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The Sounds of Race

 

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Quentin Hardy, ” Seeking a Choice of Voices in Conversational Computing,” NY TIMES, Mon., Oct. 10, 2016, B1, B4.

Cultures and ethnicities are represented–visually, orally, and in other ways as well.

Joseph Beuys proposed that speech is sculptural, and certainly, we do perceive the body “behind” the words that form them.

Asked the question “What can I do for you?” what image is formed in our minds?

[Voice over American actor Susan Bennett provides the voice of Siri for Apple.]

 

Watch and learn: the hidden messages in children’s movies

Ever suspected Frozen was more than a simple singalong? Have the false promises of Emerald City ever rung alarm bells? Here are nine family flicks that have been mined for underlying meaning

See ‘s article in The Guardian, Jul. 13, 2016.

The Visual Propaganda of the Brexit Capaigh

http://hyperallergic.com/310631/the-visual-propaganda-of-the-brexit-leave-campaign/

The world of “Tarzan” and ours

In a searching review from yesterday’s The New York Times, critic Manohla Darghis writes in the concluding paragraph:

“Part of Tarzan’s appeal–at least to some–is that he inhabits a world that resembles ours, but without the unsettling distractions of real suffering. It’s become trickier for pop entertainments to gloss over historical traumas, which may be why so many modern colonial struggles involve deep space or an alien invasion. Perhaps it’s easier to rewrite history through futuristic fictions, where worlds can collide before everyone moves on. . .”

I wish Dargis had written more about the intersection of contemporary Hollywood’s vision with Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’, and about why the blond, muddied, bare chested Alexander Skarsgard (in the role of Tarzan), is a called-for element of our twenty-first century visual culture. Utterly fictive images of transcendent white masculinity have to written, consumed, and rewritten, I guess. . .

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“Tarzan has always had bad optics–white hero, black land–to state the excessively, obvious,” quips Dargis.

No kidding, and suddenly Hollywood gets it, too!

If only this was a case of better late than never. . .

 

Divided cities: South Africa’s apartheid legacy photographed by drone

See Johnny Miller’s photos in THE GUARDIAN, Jun. 23, 2016

Unequal scenes offers interpretations of inequality in contemporary South Africa

A Davila, “Latino/a Art: Race and the Illusion of Equality”

http://blog.art21.org/2016/06/20/latinoa-art-race-and-the-illusion-of-equality/#.V2omxstlBnE

What does diversity look like?

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Photo of Mary Seacole by Maull & Company (c. 1873). Photographer’s name not known. Source: Wikimedia Commons

On top of the Brexit vote, there’s another pitched battle being waged in the UK right now—it’s over a commissioned statue of Mary Seacole (1805-1881), a recognition for her aid and service to the wounded during the Crimean War (1853-1856).

Martin Jennings’s Seacole sculpture is scheduled to be installed at St. Thomas Hospital in London later this month. Opponents say it doesn’t belong at that hallowed site where Florence Nightingale established a nursing school. The opponents double-down when accused of racism by the artist Jennings and other supporters of the monument: Seacole, they claim, wasn’t a nurse nor did she–the child of a free, black Jamaican woman and a white Scottish solider–identify as “black.”

This is a row of great proportions. In the interest of Critical Race Art History, my raised question is “What does diversity look like?”

Amy Fleming, “Sculptor Defends His Mary Seacole Statue–‘If She Was White, Would There Be This Resistance,'” THE GUARDIAN, Jun. 21, 2016

Patrick Vernon, “Rubbishing Mary Seacole Is Another Move to Hide the Contributions of Black People,” THE GUARDIAN, Jun. 21, 2016

Patrick Usborne, “Mary Seacole v. Florence Nightingale: Who Should Have the Taller Statue?” THE GUARDIAN, Jun. 20, 2016

Jonathan Jones, “So Many Causes, So Many Heroes: Why Defame Them with a Statue?” THE GUARDIAN, May 11, 2016

Sandra Gunning’s essay of 2001, “Traveling with Her Mother’s Tastes: The Negotiations of Gender, Race, and Location in WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF MRS. SEACOLE IN MANY LANDS,” is a serious consideration of Seacole’s life and times.