post-colonial letter #2

by huntgathersemiotics

Winter Greetings Prof. Ogbechie,

This is a long overdue reply and letter of thanks, as well a letter of continual questioning of art and its histories.

A few months ago, I emailed you about my problems with Western hegemonic ideology dominating my art history studies. I appreciate your responses as well as many of the links you shared which critically assess many of the feelings I have toward the institutionalized art history program (specifically at Sac State) which marginalizes Global discourse, particularly people of color (who tend to be relegated to Other/Native/Primitive/An ‘Exceptional Case’ in relation to the dominant Western discourse)

This semester I took “Modern Art History’ as well as ‘Global Modern Art History’ —– both very informational and wonderful classes……Although I began and left the courses questioning their segregation in the first place. (Why is modern art not a well integrated combination of both?)

Also, on the first day of the Global Modern Art history course, I was shocked to hear my professor say “unlike the modern art history course, our focus will not be an examination of heavy theories or philosophy”

This simple statement assumes that global modernisms: Modern Art in Africa, Asia, Latin America —- were not critically theoretical in nature.

bell hooks, best summarizes my feelings: “The idea that there is no meaningful connection between *Black experience and critical thinking about Aesthetics and culture must be continually interrogated”

(here, I replace *Black with “African, Asian and Latin American”)

The questions continue.

Some questions I have for you, apologies if they are repetitive/interconnected in nature, although that may be a necessary element:

-What possibilities can be produced from a well integrated Global modern art history?

-When the meaningful connections are made between experience (of people of color) and critical thinking about aesthetics and culture…. How can this improve a new understanding of art histories and how great an impact would this make on art history programs around the country?

-Can we, then, really call art history as such? Would we in fact need to re-imagine and break from the mold of ‘art history’ and into a more succinct names such as ‘art and its histories’?

-By breaking out of the mold of European ethnocentricity in our art historical college program, and into the realm of equality across thinking and across identity, how can we, as art historians, fight and advocate for this availability of knowledge across cultures and against the re-emergence of ethnocentrism in various forms or disguises?

– How can we, as art historians begin to (as prescribed by art historian Darby English), begin to address and explore “How To See A Work of Art in Total Darkness?” where freedom and liberation become practical tools for the art historian to complicate, reinterpret, and re-imagine the very histories that define art and humanity?

Again, thank you for your responses, they have been very helpful in my continuing journey towards a greater understanding of my passion for art history.


Megan Ortañez

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