• SPIRITED PATTERN AND DECORATION IN CONTEMPORARY BLACK ATLANTIC ART

      Silk, Gerald; Gold, Susanna; Morrison, Keith, 1942-; Shaw, Gwendolyn DuBois, 1968- (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      This dissertation investigates aesthetics of African design and decoration in the work of major contemporary artists of African descent who address heritage, history, and life experience. My project focuses on the work of three representative contemporary artists, African American artists Kehinde Wiley and Nick Cave, and Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. Their work represents practices and tendencies among a much broader group of painters and sculptors who employ elaborate textures and designs to express drama and emotion throughout the Black Atlantic world. I argue that extensive patterning, embellishment, and ornamentation are employed by many contemporary artists of African descent as a strategy for reinterpreting the art historical canon and addressing critical social issues, such as war, devastation of the earth's environment, and lack of essential resources for survival in many parts of the world. Many artworks also present historical revisions that reflect the experience of Black peoples who were brought to the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade, lived under colonial rule, or witnessed aspects of post-colonial struggle. The disorderliness of intersecting designs could also symbolize gaps in memory and traumas that will not heal. They reflect the manner in which Black Atlantic peoples have pieced together ancestral histories from a patchwork of sources. Polyrhythmic decoration enables their work to act as vessels of experience, allowing viewers to bring together multiple histories and social references.