Cultural gatekeepers are increasingly acknowledging their responsibility to diversify the voices in the spotlight. In November, GLAAD reported that the TV industry had its highest percentage of characters who identify as LGBTQ since tracking began more than 20 years ago. In March, the New York Times launched Overlooked, a series that highlights notable women whose deaths were not covered by the paper at the time. National Geographic’s editor-in-chief introduced April’s issue with an editorial titled, “For Decades Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise above Our Past We Must Acknowledge It.” Book publishing, too, has been stepping up, and a number of forthcoming titles give a platform to artists from traditionally marginalized groups.
A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women)
Danielle Krysa (Running Press, Oct.)
Collage artist Krysa launched the website The Jealous Curator in 2009 as a way of turning her envy of other artists into admiration. In 2015, she started a podcast of the same name that averages 10,000 downloads per episode. Her new book picks up where The Jealous Curator started—offering images of artwork to inspire creativity—but focuses on only women artists.
Lorna Simpson Collages
Lorna Simpson (Chronicle, June)
Simpson’s collages combine vintage advertising images with geological formations and colorful ink washes, presented as a celebration of black women and men’s hair. Poet and newly anointed Andrew M. Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander wrote the introduction to the book, which our review called “electrifying.”
Madam & Eve
Liz Rideal and Kathleen Soriano (Laurence King, Apr.)
Artist Rideal and curator Soriano document the impact of second-wave feminism on the art world over the last 50 years. The book showcases women depicting women in their artwork, 200 artists in all. Included are Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Kruger, and Tracey Moffatt, as well as lesser-known names such as Lalla Essaydi and Amalia Ulman.
My Soul Has Grown Deep
Cheryl Finley, Randall R. Griffey, Amelia Peck, and Darryl Pinckney (Metropolitan Museum of Art, June)
Taking its title from the Langston Hughes poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” this book accompanies the forthcoming exhibition History Refused to Die (May 22–Sept. 23). Griffey says the artists in the book “are all connected by common legacies of slavery and post-Reconstruction histories of oppression under the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws” and are often described as self-taught, with few expectations that their work would be seen in galleries or museums.
Michael Economy (KrimKrams Island, dist. by ArtBook, May)
From 1989 to 1990, Economy published five issues of the zine Pansy Beat, which shined a light on the downtown N.Y.C. gay and drag club scene during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis. His book collects the five issues alongside new material. “Maybe because issues of gender fluidity and drag have become almost mainstream in the last few years,” Economy says, “looking back at the old issues reveals how prescient so much of it feels.”
Brenda Kenneally (Regan Arts, Sept.)
Kenneally, an artist and documentarian, was born in Albany and spent time homeless and incarcerated as a youth. She returned to the region for an assignment in Troy, N.Y., in 2004, which led to the long-term project that became Upstate Girls. Kenneally maintained a room at the Troy YWCA for ten years while documenting the lives of one block of Troy’s residents. She sees poverty as a culture “where the common denominator is not necessarily race or gender, but social class dictated by income and other things that tell you what social class you’re in.”