cover image Art on My Mind: Visual Politics

Art on My Mind: Visual Politics

bell hooks. New Press, $16.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-56584-263-2

A prolific critical writer, hooks has contributed a collection of essays on contemporary art and what she describes as the troubling relationship between the dominant white, male art world, its practices, protocols and biases, and the creative production of African American artists-particularly women-and others whose works grapple with issues of identity and social context. Decrying the lack of black critics writing on today's art, hooks provides a minute dissection of issues of race, gender and ``cultural hegemony'' in the works of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat; examines the historical impact of photography in black life and the trenchant intelligence and beauty of Carrie Mae Weems's photographs; and highlights important critical works by black art historian Sylvia Boone and black architect LaVerne Wells-Bowie. Hooks has a knack for balancing flat academic jargon with vivid language, illuminating the historical and psychoanalytic underpinnings of her topics while anticipating the visceral responses of a lay audience. Despite her generic invocations of the dominant, marginalizing Eurocentric patriarchy, etc., etc., her passionate and highly personal exploration of these and other issues (including a distressing account of her own illness and an aestheticized betrayal by an artist friend) transforms academic abstractions into recognizable human patterns linking the everyday lives of Americans, black or white. (July)