Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Contemporary African women artists: Commentaries on everyday life in art
by Puppin-Lerch, Sabrina, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2007, 233; 3305737
Abstract (Summary)

This art historical study is based on both qualitative phenomenological and image-based research. The PDE examines the work of African contemporary women artists and how they depict their day-to-day life in their visual artworks. This study identifies alternative models of representation that reside outside the African diaspora and Western art world. The research question posed in this study was "How do contemporary sub-Sahara African women artists represent social issues in their artwork?" The investigation was based on the assumptions that, although marginally or not present in the literature, (1) contemporary African women artists exist, and (2) they create visual art to talk about the day-to-day life; whether positively (through beautification of the representation of the reality) or negatively (by presenting the crude reality), they express their individual concerns through various media and forms of artistic expression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Africa with ten contemporary women artists. The artwork of the participants was analyzed, important meanings were identified, cultural narratives in the artwork were synthesized, and a narrative thread for each artist was established. The data collected from the interviews were analyzed, central themes were identified, and findings were presented, grouped by themes. The significant findings of this study were: (1) contemporary African women artists are considered second class artists and their work is still mostly ignored by art historians, curators, and scholars, (2) African women are caught between tradition and modernity, (3) education is a vital tool to improve women's position in African society, and (4) motherhood is still considered the central role of African women's lives. This is first a study about creativity as well as community and politics, and the spaces in which they meet in an increasingly globalized African art world. The African women artists examined are all engaged with their community and cultural subjectivities, and are discursively aligned with transnational themes and modes. These contemporary African women artists are a personal reflection of African society in general, and their artwork can be a catalyst for the discussion of larger issues affecting African communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Williams, M. Willson
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 69/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Fine arts, Art history, Womens studies
Keywords: African, Artists, Contemporary African art, Everyday life, Women, Women artists
Publication Number: 3305737
ISBN: 9780549523000
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