Recommended Reading: Art and Race


Black Hair Flag (2010) by Sonya Clark. A flag that looks like braids that mimics the American flag and the Confederate flag.

#BlackLivesMatter  #BlackTransLivesMatter

The Art History program at the School of Art, Kent State University is committed to the study of critical discourses of politicized identities and their relationship to art and visual culture. From the European Renaissance and African art to museum/curatorial studies, art of the Americas, contemporary art, Asian art, Russian art, craft, and avant-garde art, we encourage you to enroll in our courses and grow your knowledge of race and ethnicity. In addition to special topics in art history, upper-level art history classes center voices that address overlooked histories, lay out the hegemony of funding/exhibiting systems, and foreground how artists dream up potential futures. The following readings are selected by the art history faculty and represent a wide breadth of voices, methodologies, and subjects. 

Image: Sonya Clark, Black Hair Flag, 2010, Paint, canvas, thread, 51.25 x 26.1 x 1.1 in. (130.2 x 66.3 x 2.8 cm), Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr.

Featured in the exhibition, TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair (Oct 2020-Aug 2021) at the Kent State University Museum.


The Abolition Collective, Together We Lift The Sky: New to Abolition Study Guide (Summer 2020).

Glenn Adamson, Design in Dialogue, Friedman Benda Gallery (New York).

Amadou Hâmpaté Bâ, “African Art: Where the Hand Has Ears,” Craft Reader Anthology.

Maurice Berger, “Are Art Museums Racist?,” Art in America, Vol. 78, No. 9 (September 1990), pp. 68-77.

David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., The Image of the Black in Western Art: Four Volumes in Eight Parts (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009–12).

Jennifer González, Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (MIT Press, 2008).

Clare Harris, The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics, and the Representation of Tibet (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

bell hooks, Art on My Mind (New York: New Press, 1995).

Linda Nochlin, "The Imaginary Orient,” The Politics of Vision: Essays on 19th Century Art and Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1989)

Kymberly Pinder, “Black Representation and Western Survey Textbooks,” The Art Bulletin, Vol. 81, No. 3. (September 1999), pp. 533-538.

James Smalls, “A Ghost of a Chance: Invisibility and Elision in African American Art Historical Practice,” Art Documentation, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring 1994), pp. 3-8.

Jonathan Spicer, ed., Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe (Baltimore, MD: Walters Art Museum, 2012.

Sue Williamson, “Should I Stay or Should I Go: The Ceaseless Dilemma of the Artists of Island 

Africa,” pp. 10-11.