Feelin Feminism: Black Women's Art as Feminist Thought
This project contends that the systems of racism, sexism, and homophobia are felt in the body, mind, and spirit and that resistance to these systems must be felt as well. Feelin’ (As in “I’m feelin’ that!”) is a term that is rooted in U.S. Black culture and derived from Black speech. In this project, it is deployed as a way of knowing in which Black women engage and create life-affirming art.
Feelin’ Feminism de-centers the mind as the locus of revolutionary thought and explains how thought, feeling, and action coalesce through Black feminist knowledge production. Black women’s art is a site of feminist knowledge production in which Black women artists negotiate their inner-life experiences in the public arena. As such, this project takes its cues from feminist standpoint theory in which experience is the basis of transformative knowledge. Interviews are conducted with Renee Cox and Avery Sunshine. Reviews of interviews and archival research are conducted for Lucille Clifton, who passed away in February of 2010. Through close reading and analysis, this project demonstrates how Black women’s art is in conversation with Black feminist theory and criticism. Feminist scholarship and affect theory frame my engagements with feelings and emotions as knowledge.
Through Renee Cox’s photography I examine the ways in which she negotiates racial shaming of Black motherhood by re-imagining it through her own body and mothering practice. Next, I trace a theology of joy through Lucille Clifton’s words, poetry and spiritual and creative practice. Then, I analyze expressions of sacro-sexual ecstasy in Avery*Sunshine’s genre ambivalent music. Finally, I propose a methodology for engaging Black women’s knowledge production that mandates that we take Black women’s anger seriously and interrogate from there. This project practices the modes of knowledge production that it presents. Furthering its argument that Black women’s art is a site of feminist knowledge production, research is conducted and presented through poetry, mixed media, personal narrative in addition to academic research methods and prose.