Extra/Ordinary
edited by Maria Elena Buszek
contributions by M. Anna Fariello, Dennis Stevens, Louise Mazanti and Paula Owen
Duke University Press, 2011
Contemporary artists such as Ghada Amer and Clare Twomey have gained international reputations for work that transforms ordinary craft media and processes into extraordinary conceptual art, from Amer’s monumental stitched paintings to Twomey’s large, ceramics-based installations. Despite the amount of attention that curators and gallery owners have paid to these and many other conceptual artists who incorporate craft into their work, few art critics or scholars have explored the historical or conceptual significance of craft in contemporary art. Extra/Ordinary takes up that task. Reflecting on what craft has come to mean in recent decades, artists, critics, curators, and scholars develop theories of craft in relation to art, chronicle how fine-art institutions understand and exhibit craft media, and offer accounts of activist crafting, or craftivism. Some contributors describe generational and institutional changes under way, while others signal new directions for scholarship, considering craft in relation to queer theory, masculinity, and science. Encompassing quilts, ceramics, letterpress books, wallpaper, and textiles, and moving from well-known museums to home workshops and political protests, Extra/Ordinary is an eclectic introduction to the “craft culture” referenced and celebrated by artists promoting new ways of thinking about the role of craft in contemporary art.

Contributors. Elissa Auther, Anthea Black, Betty Bright, Nicole Burisch, Maria Elena Buszek, Jo Dahn, M. Anna Fariello, Betsy Greer, Andrew Jackson, Janis Jefferies, Louise Mazanti, Paula Owen, Karin E. Peterson, Lacey Jane Roberts, Kirsty Robertson, Dennis Stevens, Margaret Wertheim

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A Force for Change
edited by Daniel Schulman
Northwestern University Press, 2009

The Julius Rosenwald Fund has been largely ignored in the literature of both art history and African American studies, despite its unique focus, intensity, and commitment. Spertus Museum in Chicago has organized an exhibition, guest curated by Daniel Schulman, that presents and explores the work of funded artists as well as the history of the Fund. Through it, and this accompanying collection of essays, illustrations, and color plates, we see the Fund’s groundbreaking initiative to address issues relating to the unequal treatment of blacks in American life. The book constitutes a veritable Who’s Who of African American artists and intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century, as well as a roll call of modern contributors who represent the leading scholars in their fields, including Peter M. Ascoli, grandson and biographer of Julius Rosenwald, and Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the National Museum of African American Art and Culture. With far-reaching influence even today, the Julius Rosenwald Fund stands alongside the Rockefeller and Carnegie funds as a major force in American cultural history.

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A Gift of Angels
by Bernard L. Fontana
photographs by Edward McCain
University of Arizona Press, 2010
It rises suddenly out of the Sonoran Desert landscape, towering over the tallest tree or cactus, a commanding building with a sensuous dome, elliptical vaults, and sturdy bell towers. There is nothing else like it around, nor does it seem there should be. This incongruity of setting is what strikes first-time visitors to Mission San Xavier del Bac. This great church is of another place and another time, while its beauty is universal and timeless.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is a two-century-old Spanish church in southern Arizona located just a few miles from downtown Tucson, a metropolis of more than half a million people in the American Southwest. A National Historic Landmark since 1963, the mission’s graceful baroque art and architecture have drawn visitors from all over the world.

Now Bernard Fontana—the leading expert on San Xavier—and award-winning photographer Edward McCain team up to bring us a comprehensive view of the mission as we’ve never seen it before. With 200 stunning full-color photographs and incisive text illuminating the religious, historical, and motivational context of these images, A Gift of Angels is a must-have for tourists, scholars, and other visitors to San Xavier.

From its glorious architecture all the way down to the finest details of its art, Mission San Xavier del Bac is indeed a gift of angels.
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Andean Expressions
by George F. Lau
University of Iowa Press, 2011
Flourishing from A.D. 1 to 700, the Recuay inhabited lands in northern Peru just below the imposing glaciers of the highest mountain chain in the tropics. Thriving on an economy of high-altitude crops and camelid herding, they left behind finely made artworks and grand palatial buildings with an unprecedented aesthetic and a high degree of technical sophistication. In this first in-depth study of these peoples, George Lau situates the Recuay within the great diversification of cultural styles associated with the Early Intermediate Period, provides new and significant evidence to evaluate models of social complexity, and offers fresh theories about life, settlement, art, and cosmology in the high Andes.
 
Lau crafts a nuanced social and historical model in order to evaluate the record of Recuay developments as part of a wider Andean prehistory. He analyzes the rise and decline of Recuay groups as well as their special interactions with the Andean landscape. Their  coherence was expressed as shared culture, community, and corporate identity, but Lau also reveals its diversity through time and space in order to challenge the monolithic characterizations of Recuay society pervasive in the literature today.
 
Many of the innovations in Recuay culture, revealed for the first time in this landmark volume, left a lasting impact on Andean history and continue to have relevance today. The author highlights the ways that material things intervened in ancient social and political life, rather than being merely passive reflections of historical change, to show that Recuay public art, exchange, technological innovations, warfare, and religion offer key insights into the emergence of social hierarchy and chiefly leadership and the formation, interaction, and later dissolution of large discrete polities. By presenting Recuay artifacts as fundamentally social in the sense of creating and negotiating relations among persons, places, and things, he recognizes in the complexities of the past an enduring order and intelligence that shape the contours of history.
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Art And Engagement
by Arnold Berleant
Temple University Press, 1993

In this book Arnold Berleant develops a bold alternative to the eighteenth-century aesthetic of disinterestedness. Centering on the notion of participatory engagement in the appreciation of art, he explores its appearance in art and in aesthetic perception, especially during the past century. Aesthetic engagement becomes a key, both on historical and theoretical grounds, to making intelligible our experiences with both contemporary and classical arts. In place of the traditional aesthetic that enjoins the appreciator to adopt a contemplative attitude, distancing the art object in order to ensure its removal from practical uses, Art and Engagement examines the ways in which art entices us into intimate participation in its workings.

Beginning with the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the idea of engagement, Berleant focuses on how engagement works as a force in different arts. Successive chapters pursue its influence in landscape painting, architecture and environmental design, literature, music, dance, and film.

Art and Engagement argues forcefully for the originality and power of aesthetic perception. Demolishing the conceptual barriers erected by the Western world’s limiting tradition, the book discloses the condition of engagement that has always been present when our aesthetic encounters have been most effective and suggests a new direction for aesthetic inquiry.

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Art matters
by Peter De Bolla
Harvard University Press, 2001
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Bad Aboriginal Art
by Eric Michaels
University of Minnesota Press, 1994
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Chicana Art
by Laura E. Pérez
Duke University Press, 2007
In Alma Lopez’s digital print Lupe & Sirena in Love (1999), two icons—the Virgin of Guadalupe and the mermaid Sirena, who often appears on Mexican lottery cards—embrace one another, symbolically claiming a place for same-sex desire within Mexican and Chicano/a religious and popular cultures. Ester Hernandez’s 1976 etching Libertad/Liberty depicts a female artist chiseling away at the Statue of Liberty, freeing from within it a regal Mayan woman and, in the process, creating a culturally composite Lady Liberty descended from indigenous and mixed bloodlines. In her painting Coyolxauhqui Last Seen in East Oakland (1993), Irene Perez reimagines as whole the body of the Aztec warrior goddess dismembered in myth. These pieces are part of the dynamic body of work presented in this pioneering, lavishly illustrated study, the first book primarily focused on Chicana visual arts.

Creating an invaluable archive, Laura E. Pérez examines the work of more than forty Chicana artists across a variety of media including painting, printmaking, sculpture, performance, photography, film and video, comics, sound recording, interactive CD-ROM, altars and other installation forms, and fiction, poetry, and plays. While key works from the 1960s and 1970s are discussed, most of the pieces considered were produced between 1985 and 2001. Providing a rich interpretive framework, Pérez describes how Chicana artists invoke a culturally hybrid spirituality to challenge racism, bigotry, patriarchy, and homophobia. They make use of, and often radically rework, pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and other non-Western notions of art and art-making, and they struggle to create liberating versions of familiar iconography such as the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Sacred Heart. Filled with representations of spirituality and allusions to non-Western visual and cultural traditions, the work of these Chicana artists is a vital contribution to a more inclusive canon of American arts.


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EyeMinded
by Kellie Jones and Imamu Amiri Baraka
Duke University Press, 2011
A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.
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Kingdom of Beauty
by Kim Brandt
series edited by Rey Chow, Harry Harootunian and Masao Miyoshi
Duke University Press, 2007
A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University

Kingdom of Beauty
shows that the discovery of mingei (folk art) by Japanese intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s was central to the complex process by which Japan became both a modern nation and an imperial world power. Kim Brandt’s account of the mingei movement locates its origins in colonial Korea, where middle-class Japanese artists and collectors discovered that imperialism offered them special opportunities to amass art objects and gain social, cultural, and even political influence. Later, mingei enthusiasts worked with (and against) other groups—such as state officials, fascist ideologues, rival folk art organizations, local artisans, newspaper and magazine editors, and department store managers—to promote their own vision of beautiful prosperity for Japan, Asia, and indeed the world. In tracing the history of mingei activism, Brandt considers not only Yanagi Muneyoshi, Hamada Shōji, Kawai Kanjirō, and other well-known leaders of the folk art movement but also the often overlooked networks of provincial intellectuals, craftspeople, marketers, and shoppers who were just as important to its success. The result of their collective efforts, she makes clear, was the transformation of a once-obscure category of pre-industrial rural artifacts into an icon of modern national style.
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Vodou Nation
by Michael Largey
University of Chicago Press, 2006
While the Haitian musical tradition is probably best known for the Vodou-inspired roots music that helped topple the two-generation Duvalier dictatorship, the nation’s troubled history of civil unrest and its tangled relationship with the United States is more intensely experienced through its art music, which combines French and German elements of classical music with Haiti's indigenous folk music. Vodou Nation examines art music by Haitian and African American composers who were inspired by Haiti’s history as a nation created by slave revolt. 

Around the time of the United States’s occupation of Haiti in 1915, African American composers began to incorporate Vodou-inspired musical idioms to showcase black artistry and protest white oppression. Together with Haitian musicians, these composers helped create what Michael Largey calls the “Vodou Nation,” an ideal vision of Haiti that championed its African-based culture as a bulwark against America’s imperialism. Highlighting the contributions of many Haitian and African American composers who wrote music that brought rhythms and melodies of the Vodou ceremony to local and international audiences, Vodou Nation sheds light on a black cosmopolitan musical tradition that was deeply rooted in Haitian culture and politics.
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Alaska Native Art
by Susan W. Fair
edited by Jean Blodgett
University of Alaska Press, 2006
Ranging from the islands of the Bering Sea to Alaska's interior forests, Alaska Native Art celebrates the rich art of Alaska's Native peoples, both setting their work in the context of historical traditions and demonstrating the vibrant role it continues to play in contemporary Alaskan culture. Alaska Native Art showcases a staggering array of types of art—from beadwork to ivory carving, basketry to skin sewing—from Aleutian Islander, Pacific Eskimo, Tlingit, Athabaskan, Yup'ik, and Inupiaq artists, as well as full-color photographs of artists at work. Lavishly produced, and featuring a fascinating study by author Susan W. Fair of the concept of tradition in the modern world, it is a tribute to the incredible vision of Alaska's Native artists.
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