As Americanists, reckoning with the South might also help us to understand its diverse regional histories and reflect upon broader national contemporary discourses, both from within and without.
By recovering the motivation of love that set aloft the freedom in Morgan to determine her artistic path—that which she voiced in terms of the pleasures of intimacy with God—we witness how amateurism operates as a critical position committed to other allegiances and defined by other competencies, even as it interacts and interweaves with the formal codes, networks, and sociocultural norms of professionalism.
I immediately recognized that the instruments of his labor—brushes and a bucket of whitewash, used to brighten the walls of soot-filled homes—were often the stuff of racial satire and caricature in the nineteenth century. Was this a sympathetic portrayal of an African American or something much more complicated?
The invited essays included in this section offer nuanced readings of artists spanning nearly a century, whose engagement with European art and artistic tradition vary from full-throated adulation to subtle and unspoken resonances.
This special section of Panorama entitled “Riff: African American Artists and the European Canon” is an outgrowth of an Association for Critical Race Art History panel of the same name that took place at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in 2017. The five essays included in this section offer nuanced readings of artists spanning nearly a century, whose engagement with European art and artistic tradition vary from full-throated adulation to subtle and unspoken resonances.
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