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Review of WAKE UP OUR SOULS by Tonya Bolden

by Andrea L. Williams

Bolden, Tonya. 2004. WAKE UP OUR SOULS: A CELEBRATION OF BLACK AMERICAN ARTISTS. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0810945274

This work is a visually stunning survey of the history of African American artists in the United States. It covers from the late 18th century to the late 20 the century. Most painters are covered, but some attention to sculptor, photographers and other visual artists is included as well. Three main chapters include color reproductions of 45 works with photographs of artists. Detailed captions provide biographical information. While older readers may get more out of the text, the wonderful reproductions are so great they may stimulate the imagination of old and young alike. The end information includes a glossary, a selected bibliography, a reading list and an index. Artists include the very prominent such as Gordon Parks, Romare Bearden and lesser known public figures.

Highlights of this book include eclectic artists as varied as quilt makers, photographers, and outsider artists all get at least some billing in this book. The result may be this work creates curiosity and encouragement to would be artists who assume artistic merit must fit a certain hide bound template.

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