Art and culture are almost inseparably intertwined. Art reflects and critiques culture, just as culture shapes and influences art.
This Black History Month, Indiana University Press is highlighting two books devoted to advancing the conversation around black art and the culture as a whole.
The Life and Art of Felrath Hines: From Light to Dark gives new insight into the life of an artist shaped by his experiences with segregation but not pigeonholed by his race. Hines, who grew up in Indianapolis, moved to Chicago to pursue his art career in 1937. He went on to become an acclaimed visual and abstract artist, the private painting restorer to Georgia O'Keeffe, and the first African-American man to work as a conservator for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
In The Life and Art of Felrath Hines, author Rachel Berenson Perry carefully tracks the story of Hines' development and success as an artist, paying close attention to his actions in the 1950's and 1960's art scene in New York City, his close friendship with jazz musician Billy Strayhorn, and his work with the civil rights movement of his era.
That movement, of course, has not abated, and Black Lives Matter and Music: Protest, Intervention, and Reflection gives a contemporary look at the role of art in the quest for civil rights in America. This collection of case studies draws on ethnographic research and personal encounters to tell the story of music in the Black Lives Matter movement. Each chapter in Black Lives Matter and Music is focused on a particular case study, offering nuanced snapshots of how African-American musical genres have flourished in different cities, playing a key role in local activism.
Through the music of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Janelle Monae and more, Black Lives Matter and Music provokes readers to examine how we teach, how we conduct research, and ultimately, how we should think about the ways that black struggle, liberation, and identity have evolved in the United States and around the world.
As our national conversation on race, rights, and even art continues, both of these books advance the dialogue in a helpful, meaningful way while giving added the often missing element of historical perspective. The Life and Art of Felrath Hines and Black Lives Matter and Music are due out this fall from Indiana University Press.