William Hill

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education


College of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies and Research

First Advisor

Stephen Haymes, PhD


The 1990s spawned a new generation of African-American artists who worked to understand and deconstruct meanings of blackness within the context of the post-black aesthetic. Their conceptualized installations resulted in various discourses on the nature of race, culture and identity within the framework of exhibition and collection. Considered 'post-black' by critics, these artists sought to reexamine black aesthetics through the dialects of disenfranchisement, desire and hegemonic forms of representation in American culture. From this perspective, I will investigate the installation art of Kara Walker and Fred Wilson, illustrating how these practices inform and challenge racial stereotypes prevalent in visual culture. Walker rewrites romantic narratives of the Old South into allegorical and subversive slavery' past perform horrific acts of perversion, mutilation and sexual abuse. Drawing upon Freud's views on ego and body relation as well as Fanon's concepts on racial objectification. I will provide new insights on the psychological dimensions of Walker's work. Wilson, on the other hand, transforms reclaimed objects to encourage dialogue regarding the absence of negritude within the context of cultural institutions. In the discussion of Wilson's critical method of collecting and re-presenting these artifacts, I will examine his visual narratives in comparison to Benjamin concept of historical materialism to demonstrate how the re-configuration of artifacts expose viewers to hegemonic representations that exist within museum culture.

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