Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa - Creative Arts, Feminism, Literature, Nigeria

New moves in Black women’s art: Toyin Sokefun


Nigerian photographer Toyin Sokefun ,  who is part of a photographic collective based in Lagos called Depth of Field,  has an exhibition of her work  at the South London Gallery.  The BBC World Service  also has an  interview with Toyin which can be heard on The Ticket. Toyin’s photography focuses on a rediscovery of Lagos,  the sprawling mass that is the  most vibrant and colourful of world cities.  In a Diasporic extension of her project to photograph Lagos  she has begun to  photograph the Nigerian community in Peckham
(pronounced Pecham), a Black working class district in South East London, many of whom are Lagosians that moved to London in the 1970s.

“Creating Their Own Image”   is a comprehensive history of African-American Women artists.    The book begins with an examination of Western images of Blackness from the ancient Greeks through the Renaissance which is filled with postive images  and on to  the Slave trade when the first negative images begin to appear.

The narrative proper begins during the Middle Passage with the emergence
of slave art, including domestic-oriented work such as quilts, dolls and
textiles, as well as gardens and burial sites. Farrington then leads us
through the splendors of black women’s art during the Reconstruction, the post-
Reconstruction backlash, a new flowering during the Harlem Renaissance and the
WPA, what she views as the setback of Abstract Expressionism, and black women
artists’ love-hate relationships to the Black Power and feminist movements.
The second half of the book is devoted to contemporary art, covering
abstraction, conceptualism, outsider art, postmodernism and post-Black art.

The author, Lisa E Farrington, assumes the reader has little prior knowledge of Black history, American history or  Art history.   For example she begins the section on the Harlem Renaissance by explaining what “Harlem”  is.  However even if you do have knowledge of one or more of these subjects, I think this is an important piece of work in it’s contribution to the history of African-American women and to Black history in general.

Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists by Lisa E Farrington. Published by Oxford University Press.  Read the full review here.