Visual lecture discusses drawings from African American artists

Elizabeth Corcoles, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Bridget R. Cooks, guest speaker for The Black Index lecture, discussed drawings from three African American artists who are shining a light on how the black community is photographed and perceived in the media. The presentation on Oct. 30 was part of the Visual and Cultural Studies lecture series.

The heavy topic referenced works by artists Kenyatta A.C. Hinckle, Titus Kaphar and Whitfield Lovell.

“The artists recreate images of black people in ways that are alternative ways of thinking about blacks through photography,” said Cooks, the author of Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum.

Cooks’ focuses on the artists and their drawings because they are adding a different element to how people in the black community are being depicted.

“They’re using source material, suggests that through a more artistic representation, drawing in particular, you’re able to learn more and different things about black people than the ways we’re often pictured through photography or mug shots,” she said.

In the three artists’ work, people can see that “they are trying to create a counter index, a different way of picturing black people, that’s an alternative to other standard photographic pictures,” Cooks said.

Cooks said, “Many people, black and non-black, are trying to survive in a moment where there is a lot of racial violence.

“I think that these artists are trying to process the age that we live in, trying to sustain ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually,” Cooks said. “And that they’re trying to figure out ways to help us think about our own value, and to help us grieve over the people that have been murdered.”