African American Art and its Context

To assess the QEP-PSR goals of this course, and the goal of the General Education and Distribution Requirements Assignment, students will analyze ONE work of African American art of their own choosing. It can be a painting, sculpture, photograph, video, drawing, or mixed media work. Ideally, it will be reproduced in color. It MUST be an African American artwork made sometime between 1850 and the present day.
You can choose one of the artists we have studied in class as your paper topic, either the work studied or another work by the same artist. These artists are: Jacob Lawrence, Mario Moore, Titus Kaphar, Aaron Douglas, James Van der Zee, Harriet Powers, Edmonia Lewis, Henry Tanner, Meta Fuller, and Faith Ringgold. Or you could choose from one of these other prominent, leading African American artists (listed from contemporary to older times):
Bisa Butler, Amy Sherald, Kara Walker, Mickalene Thomas, Lorna Simpson, Kehinde Wiley, Carrie Mae Weems, K wame Brathwaite, Gordon Parks, Romare Bearden, Augusta Savage, and Horace Pippin. You might also consider writing on a local Miami “star” – Purvis Young, born in Liberty City, who lived and worked in Overtown until his 2010 death. Or you can write the paper on another African American artist of your own choosing.

Most, if not all, of the information you will need for Part 1 (Biography) and Part 2 (Historical Context) of this assignment can be found in websites on the internet, though you are also encouraged to use print sources from the Barry Library, including the Reference books section. You need to have used at least FIVE or more sources; Wikipedia can be one of them. At the end of the paper, attach a list of the website URLs you used and the publication information for any print sources you used. You do NOT need to cite specific sources within the paper in the form of footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations. Simply list the sources used.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: All writing must be your own; 100%. No one else can do the work for you. If you use the words of an internet or print source it is plagiarism (even if only a short phrase or single sentence is used). Plagiarism will result in an automatic “F.” No copying and pasting. You need to paraphrase/summarize the information you have learned online or in print into YOUR OWN WORDS AND PHRASING. That is part of the skill being developed by writing a research paper. Do not use any quotations in the paper.
The paper consists of the following four parts:
PART 1: Biography
An overview of the artist’s life and career, emphasizing not just facts but her/his achievements, the basis of their reputation or fame, innovations they are known for, reputation and recognition in their lifetime, etc.
PART 2: Historical Context
Summarize key aspects of the social and historical attitudes and behaviors of white American culture toward African Americans during the decades of the artist’s lifetime. Sketch a specific picture of what the artist faced in those particular years, as a person of color trying to succeed as an artist in a society with explicit or implicit racial biases.
PART 3: Visual Analysis
Identify and analyze the most important visual elements (from the class list of eight) and design principles (from the class list of six) used by the artist. Briefly discuss the content and meaning of the work.
PART 4: PSR Reflections
In this assignment, how did the experience of learning about this African American artist, their historical context, and analyzing her/his artwork, promote your respect and appreciation for their expression and art? In other words, how did this assignment help you to develop Personal and Social Responsibility (PSR) toward openness to this culture and its art? How did it reveal the way racial biases marginalize the artist’s work or established obstacles to practicing her/his art?Be as specific as possible in your reflection.
Also, briefly reflect on your reactions to the study of African American art in this course and how it may have impacted your attitudes.
Length of Paper: minimum 5 pages, maximum 6 pages of content. Minimum length for each section (can be longer): Part 1, Biography: one page; Part 2, Historical Setting: 1 ½ pages; Part 3, Visual Analysis: one page; Part 4, PSR reflection: 1 ½ pages. The paper should also include a cover page; an end page listing sources uses; and an image of the work you are writing about (this could appear on the cover page if you prefer). The paper’s typed, double-spaced text must not be larger than 12 pt. font, with 1-inch margins.