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Lecture 012 - Considerations of Race and Ethnicity in Western Art.docx

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Department
Women's Studies
Course
Women's Studies 2158A/B
Professor
Sonia Halpern
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 012 – Considerations of Race and Ethnicity in Western Art December 4, 2012 Outline I – Introduction II – Blacks in the U.S. a. Male Artists b. Female Artists III – Natives in Canada a. Male Artists b. Female Artists IV – Conclusion a. Major themes of course - Most profound racial relationship in US is between blacks and whites, in Canada it is between whites and Natives - Not just white women attracted to post-modernism; also minority women attracted to post- modernism because - 1) They were women – experienced sexism and injustice - 2) Experienced injustice as belonging to a minority group - We call this a group who has experienced a double oppression; minority and women - Should never rank oppressions; because they are interconnected o Example: Slavery in America o We know that white slave owners forced black slave women to be breeders; did this to increase the slave population; would rape them or force them to have sex with fellow black slaves o Weren’t just raping the women because they were women; raping them because they were black women – had to be both black and women in order to fit the criterion for these white slave owners - Can see a similar kind of dynamic in Canada o Women called squaws; squaws translates into vagina; term also used to refer to a lower social class of native man – another way of degrading women, by calling the lower social class of men a squaw o White government officials like police officers raped native women; weren’t raping them just because they were women or just because they were native, raping them because they were native AND women - Racism against women is a kind of sexism; and that sexism toward minority women is a form of racism - Double oppressions are necessarily interconnected - Absurdity of racism lies partly in the fact that it is so arbitrarily defined; what we label as a certain ethnic group changes over time in a place – all depends on who is benefiting from it o Whites labelled someone who was black if they had one drop of black blood; if there was any kind of black relative going way back in their family history o Nowadays, we describe someone as black if one of their parents are - Historically, black was based on blood ties and lineage, and not necessarily your skin colour Olympia (Manet, 1863) - Black woman is mammy stereotype; nurse-caregiver type, depicted as this woman treated as part of the family, but she’s not really part of the family because she’s a domestic servant - Typically, artwork that depicts her, make her a willing participant; happy being a slave - Problem with these artworks don’t depict the realities, doesn’t show what slave life was like - Mammy character in painting is heavy-set, bringing prostitute flowers - Stereotypical representation of the mammy type Manet’s Olympia (Ramos, 1973) - Mammy here not presented as naïve; Ramos poking fun at Manet’s Olympia, reinforcing gender and ethnic stereotypes - Humourous rendition of Manet’s work, not a serious challenging of Manet’s work Liberation of Aunt Jemima (Bettye Saar, 1972) - Jovial, wore kerchief on head to denote domestic servitude – mammy stereotype o Changed image to make her look more modern - Label is used as a wallpaper for the work - Wants to very seriously challenge the mammy stereotype; not pay tribute to it like Mel Ramos, but to challenge it - Juxtaposition of the forceful mammy with the stereotype of holding a broom - Pro-active, taking a stance, being political and protecting self - Guns - Holding white baby, baby looks miserable – challenging stereotype that mammies are good with children - Fist symbol of black power, symbol of being pro-active - Standing in cotton to reference the slaves picking cotton; again, another stereotype - Saar taking serious political stance against Mammy stereotype - Feminist movement and civil rights movement happening at same time Echoes of Harlem (Faith Ringgold, 1980) - Large quilt of hand-painted cotton - Concerned with idea of showing primarily black women as individualized - Challenging stereotype of all blacks looking alike; varying skin tones, hair textures, facial features, body types – as individualized as any other group - Combining white tradition, black tradition, and female tradition; drawn to quilts because they were really the domain of black women, and that quilts were often used in the underground railway system as containing encoded messages – very subversive and political purposes; incorporating double identity (black and women) - Actually uses paint on them to try and incorporate the kind of mainstream white artist identity; trying to amalgamate a lot of different identities in a single work - Good example of how race and gender are connected - She protested an art exhibition that took place at school of visual arts in NY (late 60s); irony of this was this exhibition was an art exhibition that attacked US policies of war, racism, and sexism – protested it because this exhibition had no black women artists in it at all, not represented whatsoever; as a result of her protest, it was revised to include black women artists - WSABAL – Women, Students, and Artists for Black Art Liberation o Organized by Ringgold o About the interconnectedness of both groups - In 60s and 70s, she was ostracized from the black community; spoke out against male domination, as a feminist; also had to target black men, seen as turning against her own - In 60s and 70s, black solidarity was extremely important; Ringgold accused of being more concerned with her feminism than her black identity - Many blacks told her she needed to be more concerned about the oppression she was experien
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