Cooks has given a thoughtful and revealing history of many of this century's most important exhibitions of "black" art or art by African Americans. It is important to understand the fact that these exhibitions, the art, the players and the politics were a major factor in the development of the field of African American art in the twentieth century. The artists that were featured, the books that were generated established a place for art by African Americans in an art world largely inhospitable. This kind of study goes hand in hand with the study of the artists and the themes of African American Art.
Well written and engaging, the text provides a wealth of information and insight, while remaining clear and accessible. The introduction acts as guide to the entire text, with historical and social background, even including notes on terminology. The reader is equipped to explore the text in an educated and thoughtful way. I found the chapter, Back to the Future, on "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," to be particularly interesting, especially in regards to the ways these pieces emerged in modern merchandizing and culture. This is a must-read.
'Exhibiting Blackness' is a remarkable history of our country's practices when exhibiting African American artists and African American culture. It raises issues that persist until today and challenges institutions to re-examine, re-structure and re-imagine the way African American culture is situated in the broader narrative.
This book has been enlightening in discovering my ancestral struggle. It has helped me understand why my parents and grandparents think and behave the way they do- especially in regards to Whites and mainstream society. Exhibiting Blackness is comprehensible and elicits new ideas that challenges my thinking process.
Bridget Cooks is an amazing writer, a thourough scholar and a senior in her field. I have followed her career with great interest; she never seize to surprise and enlighten me. I feel I know a great deal more about art and the US after reading her book.