Skip to main content

"Every Time I Think about Color It’s a Political Statement:" Classical Elements in the Art of Emma Amos

By Michele Valerie Ronnick

Fuller appreciation of the octogenarian Atlanta native Emma Amos may come after her retrospective exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens set for 2021, but in support and anticipation of that is my study of the classical elements in her work. The theme can be traced back to her aquatint etchings “Pompeii Red” (1959) and “Pompeii White” (1960), and even to her association with the Spiral Collective, an all male group of black artists whose name was inspired by Archimedes and to which she was invited to join in 1963.

Frank M. Snowden, Jr. and the Origins of The Image of the Black in Western Art

By Stuart McManus

In 1976 a landmark series in the history of art appeared. This was entitled The Image of the Black in Western Art and was inaugurated by a volume, subtitled “From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire.” This richly illustrated book, which offered readings of all the canonical representations from this period was inspired by the pioneering efforts of Dominique de Menil (1908-1997), a leading figure in the efforts to integrate the art world.

Centaurs and Equisapiens

By Tom Hawkins

Like most viewers of Boots Riley’s ‘Sorry to Bother You’ (2018), I fell out of my seat when Cash, the main character, stumbles upon a group of horse-headed equisapiens. Where did these creatures come from – both in terms of the story and within Riley’s biting commentary on our contemporary world? I suggest a triangulation of these equisapiens with images of Greek centaurs and W. E. B. Du Bois’s claim that white supremacy builds upon a conception of black bodies as a tertium quid.

When and Where I (Don’t) Enter: Afro-Pessimism, The Fungible Object, and Black Queer Representations of Medusa

By Stefani Echeverria-Fenn

Classicists are well familiar with how the figure of Medusa has been mapped on to Black womanhood by scholars such as Martin Bernal[1]; a nexus of connections mirrored in contemporary iconography of Black female celebrities.[2] In this paper I hope to resist what has become a sometimes facile and problematically naturalized set of associations between the Black feminine body and Medusa[3] by analyzing, through the lens of Black-Pessimism, four contemporary Black artistic representations of Medusa that refuse such identifications and instead portray Medusa as white and/or not human at all.

Metamorphoses in Boots Riley's Sorry to Bother You (2018)

By Samuel Agbamu

Boots Riley’s 2018 film Sorry to Bother You plays with aurality and visuality, appearance and reality. It tells the story of a call centre employee, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) who is catapulted to the top of the telephone marketing business by learning to use his ‘white voice’. His name allows for the pun ‘Cash-is-green’, which not only instantiates the slipperiness of language as a central theme of the film but forms a connection to Roman antiquity through the name of this Republican conspirator against Julius Caesar.

Subscribe to Black Classicism in the Visual Arts