What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic looks at the roots of the African American Aesthetic as a form of cultural intelligence—a way of thinking—that serves not only African Americans but also anyone using it.
We all can name some of the Africanist aesthetic-structures that fuel African American and American art … Syncopation, Improvisation, Call and Response, Cool, Polyrhythm, or Innovation as an ambition … But there are many, many more.
What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic identifies and defines seventy-four elements of the aesthetic through text and illustration. Using the magnificent camerawork of R.J. Muna, Sharen Bradford, Jae Man Joo, Rachel Neville, James Barry Knox, and more– as they point their cameras at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and jazz artists such as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Wynton Marsalis – a specific artistic consciousness or sensibility visually unfolds. Luana even joins the camera crew as she shoots Oakland Street Graffiti. Media links in the back of the book provide further illustration of the aesthetic.
Art can be created for the sole purpose of self-expression of the artist … no viewer need apply. But that is not true of the African-American Aesthetic … it is limbic … calling for an intelligent community participatory-response. The ambition of What Makes That Black? The African-American Aesthetic is to increase the cultural IQ when we regard all expressive endeavors. The book is a ladder, an almanac, a handbook, a periodic table, and a contribution to the dialog on Black American Aesthetics. Consequentially it’s a dialog on American Aesthetics.
Paperback, 118 pages