Black Art History & Contemporary Makers
As I do my own due diligence for researching and identifying black ceramicists, I'm struggling to find information. It's almost embarrassing how I google "black ceramics" or "african american ceramics" and every iteration of ceramics, pottery, clay -- only to come up with a short list of names, relegated to a small image or a short statement. For an aspect of identity that bears importance on personal identity as well as social identity, the lack of representation of black ceramicists is disheartening.
I won't pretend that I'm doing any sort of savior work by highlighting black individuals. This should be the status quo in art history and contemporary art, not a special thing. But, I can't fight for intersectional feminism of all peoples - races, genders, sexualities, etc - and ignore the struggles of black artists.
What I am doing is trying to make the information available and educating my own audience.
In the process, I need to examine my own privileges and biases. I am a white individual. I use a number of identifiers for my gender and sexuality, but to keep it simple - I am agender, I use they/them pronouns, and I use the labels queer and trans. I am under thirty. I am able bodied. I am neurodivergent.
I am privileged to have a formal arts education, and the means to continue into a masters program for art history. I go to a university where there are classes taught on African art - I'm currently enrolled in Contemporary African art and African Photography courses, and I was able to take Female Identity in African Art last semester. I have access to classes on high versus low art, Feminist art, craft and fine art, and various intersections of identity.
In my search this month to highlight black ceramicists, I also need to be aware of how labels affect individuals. I was too eager to use a specific artist's work today - his pieces are about how using one individual label (i.e. American, black, latino) reduces a person to a single stereotyped identity. Without analyzing his work, I wanted to use his work which overtly resists labels in my research about black ceramicists.
My published work has many intersections of identity. How would I like to be labeled "the trans writer"? I wouldn't want my work to be reduced to a single identifier, for fear of being typecast. I can't do that to others.
I am continuing to search for black ceramicists for this blog, but I need to find individuals who overtly identify as black (or identify as part of a black diaspora). A significant part of educating others involves educating yourself, finding your own issues and bases and making the changes necessary to move forward without disrespecting others.