aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:
Unknown artist, possibly of the Brazilian School
Black Artist Completing a Portrait of a White Female Aristocrat
Brazil (early 1700s)
Oil on canvas
Philadelphia private collection
I was thrilled at first to see this image - a pre-modern Black woman artist, portrayed at work! But then I saw this:
Although this black artist appears to be wearing a dress, it is likely to be a male figure. As the scholar Sheldon Cheek explains, the artist wears an earring and a silver collar, both common articles worn by black male servants/slaves in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the collar traditionally indicating slave status. Women rarely, if ever, wore the silver collar. The artist also appears to be wearing a silver “shackle” on the arm.
Ugh. Pretty awful.
I think we should all be pretty critical of what’s written about this painting. Especially the part you’ve quoted above about how they have assigned the gender of the artist in the painting. I find it bizarre that something that is supposed to indicate enslaved status (not gender) somehow trumps this person wearing women’s clothing (that’s also a woman’s hat to the best of my knowledge).
The Americas, including Brazil, have a long tradition of transgender and third gender people. This is one of those images from the past that falls quite easily through the cracks because it is a collection of “exceptions”; it doesn’t fit nicely into categories that have been created and therefore, it’s more or less ignored.
If anyone’s hesitant to be critical, maybe you should also note that both the articles linked above make claims that slavery in Brazil was “less harsh” than other places. What???
How many of our assumptions are being projected onto this painting? Are the “contradictions” present in it a product of the painting itself, or is the problem with the categories we try to place it in? How many layers do we have to fight uphill through when we even look at this image? After all, History teaches us:
- women weren’t artists
- Black people weren’t artists
- Black people were enslaved
- Enslaved people didn’t do anything of worth
- Transgender, genderqueer and third gender people didn’t exist before the 1960s
- white people control how Black images are perceived, but not the other way around
- gender must be immediately perceivable and fit into our categories of “male” and “female”
^ So this is the baggage we bring with us when we look at this image. We look at this painting, and we actively search for indicators that allow us to continue to believe the above assumptions.
If we take away those assumptions, if we try to move past them and see this portrait with new eyes, what are we left with? Whose History do we see here? Maybe it’s mine; maybe it’s yours.
I’m in England right now (soon to depart for France) and I realized I’ll have a couple of days in London to poke around before I fly back to the US on Sept. 10th, so hey, why not see if my favorite contemporary visual artist has anything on display currently, right? And I find that her first ever solo exhibition in London, a huge walk-through installation piece (photo above) titled Diluvium, is going to be opening at the Korean Cultural Center on Sept. 13th. Yeah, three days after I fly out. So no offense, Europe, but I’m kind of on team Bárðarbunga at the moment.
Okay, but who’s Lee Bul and why should I care?
In this episode of Rocket Talk, Justin invites authors Kate Elliott and N.K. Jemisin on to the show to talk about reader, writer, and publisher bias. How do our own blind spots influence the choices we make? How does that impact society? How can we do better?
Listen to Rocket Talk now!
I can safely say that we speak pretty bluntly about these issues in this podcast. Justin is a good interviewer who mostly got out of our way and fed us the right questions at the right time.
It’s like kateelliottsff's Spiritwalker novels! SO COOL.
Oh hey look at this FABULOUS map of Ice Age Europe. The Spiritwalker sea level falls between the 8000 and 7000 B.C. topographies.
(Source: historical-nonfiction, via lex-luthor-the-bold)
As I have mentioned before, and will again, In the next month I am attending London Worldcon (Loncon) and Fantasycon (in York, England).
Worldcon will be huge and full of stuff. Fantasycon is a small, informal convention. Both will be great, and it is not too late to buy memberships. I hope to meet many readers and writers there.
Of additional interest: I will have postcards of the cover of the Tachyon collection of my short fiction (The Very Best of Kate Elliott) with its FABULOUS Julie Dillon cover. I will also have a few postcards signed by Julie, which I’ll be giving out at my reading at Loncon.
For those of you overseas who have been unable to order The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal due to the truly high shipping international shipping costs, I am bringing 15 copies with me (to sell); all are signed by Julie Dillon. I will definitely have them on hand when i sign on Friday at noon at Loncon.
At Fantasycon I’ll be giving the con a print of each of the Julie Dillon color illustrations (one of each, there are two): the dragon, and the Amazons for the con to give away. I will have a second set of prints at Loncon but I haven’t yet decided how to use them as a reward. Probably I will tweet a question and the first person to find me and answer will get a print.
(If you know people read you who may attend either of these conventions please RT)
I participated in a podcast this afternoon through the auspices of SFSIGNAL website, moderated by Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates, and featuring Tad Williams, Laura Resnick, Felix Gilman, blogger Sarah Chorn, and myself.
We talked about the influences on modern epic fantasy.
At the end each of the authors was asked which of our books or series we would most like to see turned into tv/film and who we would cast.
So NATURALLY I said, “I bow to Tumblr’s wisdom in this, and would like to see the Spiritwalker Trilogy turned into a series with Jessica Sula* as Cat, Keke Palmer or Ruth Negga as Bee, and the popular favorite Aldis Hodge as Andevai, also a Brazilian model whose name I can’t remember as Rory.”
So: Thank you, Tumblr.
* It’s possible that I said Jennifer Sula, in which case I apologize.
The podcast should go live this coming Monday at SF Signal.
My Receipt Was Not Good Enough -
On my second day in the new town, I went to Best Buy to buy a telephone. In the store, I asked a salesperson, “Do you have old fashioned telephones as opposed to cellular phones?” He knew exactly what I meant and pointed me in the right direction.
I have a landline in my new apartment because,…
museumofmodernerotica said: Maybe this is a crazy question, but how did Europeans know what Africans looked like? I know that some of the paintings here are of North Africans/Middle Easterners, but others clearly depict people born south of the Sahara. I've heard of Prester John but I never imagined that medieval Europeans were aware that Prester John would have had brown skin. Am I missing something?
Like. There are a lot of things I could say here. But I’m just going to do my best to answer your question, and the answer is either very simple or very complicated, depending on your current point of view.
1. “They” knew what people with brown skin looked like because people with brown skin had been there literally THE ENTIRE TIME. Some (and father back, ALL) of “them” had brown skin themselves.
2. “People with Brown Skin” and “Europeans” are not separate and mutually exclusive groups.
3. No matter how far back you go, the mythical time that you’re looking for, when all-white, racially and culturally isolated Europe was “real”, will continue to recede from your grasp until it winkles out the like imaginary place it is.
We can just keep going back. In every area, from all walks of life, rich and poor, kings and peasants, artists and iconoclasts, before there were countries and continents, before there were white people.
Switzerland, c. 1800:[fixed link here]
Scotland, England, France, 1280s:
Greece, c. 1000:
Throughout Europe, 800s-500s:
England, c. 300 AD:
Scotland, c. 100 AD:
Italy, 79 AD:
Greece, 170 B.C.:
Greece, 300 B. C.:
Greece, 400s B.C.
Greece, 500s B.C.:
Egypt, 1200s B.C.:
Crete (Minoan), 1600 B.C.:
Crete (Minoan), early 2000s B.C.:
Romania, 34,000 B.C.:
The time when “EVERYONE” in Europe was White does not exist. They knew what people with brown skin looked like because they were there. They knew what “Africans” looked like because they were there, and they weren’t “they”, they were us, or you. I think what you’re missing is something that never existed.
Can’t go to # but have questions for authors? @ will ask Kate Elliott, Simon R. Green, and more!
Pose your questions here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1892636-s-l-and-open-road-head-to-loncon-3
Imagined Realms: Book 1
I have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first issue of Imagined Realms, an annual art publication featuring positive and diverse representations of women in fantasy and science fiction. Each book will feature 10 exclusive and new illustrations created by me specifically for the book.
Available for purchase are the printed books, 6”x8” and 11”x14” print packs that have all 10 illustrations, limited edition fine art giclees, and a downloadable process video showing my digital painting method.
Please check it out and spread the word!
I have backed this fantastic project! Check it out!
For those of you who’ve asked how you can support Medievalpoc:
Become a Medievalpoc Patron!
Medievalpoc is a collection of art, history, and academic resources accessible to anyone. Ph.D. candidates, history educators, fantasy authors, fans of historical media and cultural studies, as well as those who are just interested in learning something different have found new and exciting information at Medievalpoc. These artworks and documentation are readily available on multiple social media platforms, including Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Medievalpoc.org. The goal of Medievalpoc is not to hoard information, but to share it as widely as possible and incite discussion in social as well as activist and educational communities.
Patronage will provide the opportunity to not only bring Medievalpoc to a wider audience online, but the ability to travel for appearances at academic and literary conventions, speak at functions, and facilitate activist work in face-to-face environments. Patronage means more access to databases, art collections, and academic resources for the creation of Medievalpoc. In addition, your patronage can pave the way for exciting new projects across various media, like print, film, and interactive online content—projects Patrons can see in the making.
I look forward to forging a new era of Patron and Creator with my readers in my goal of bringing Art and History to life in a new way-a History in which we can see ourselves.
I became a Medievalpoc Patron and wanted to signal boost this.
When people complain about “revisionist history” what they don’t tell you is that the “default history” so many were taught in school—the one that leaves out PoC, the one that leaves out women, the one that leaves out the ways in which indigenous people fought back, adapted, co-opted and SURVIVED—is the true revisionist history.
For me a project like medievalpoc and all the people writing and educating about the full panoply of history is part of RESTORATIVE HISTORY. We have always been here.
Cover by Julie Dillon.
Cover by Elizabeth Story.
Cover by Thomas Canty.
Cover by Elizabeth Story.
Cover by Lius Lasahido.
Obviously I love the Julie Dillon cover, but I must say that Tachyon has gorgeous covers with such variety!
delphae said: Recently you posted a statistics that showed the percentage of different races portrayed in children's books. I have a difficult time believing that 93 % of the books portrayed white people. I don't dispute that minorities have are portrayed in such small percentages. I teach preschool and most of my students are minorities and I struggle to find books that portray children like them. However, were they only looking at books that contain human characters?
Apparently you’re not alone in this reaction, although it seems pretty reaching to me. I think what you’re asking about “human characters” might have something to do with what’s covered here at the CCBlogC:
There has been a lively discussion going on over at Read Roger, prompted by Lee & Low asking why the number of multicultural books has stagnated for the past 18 years. Roger remarked:Semi-facetious response: While the blog states the disparity between the non-white population in this country (37% of the whole) and the percentage of children’s books with “multicultural content” (hovering around 10% over the last eighteen years), I want to know what percentage of children’s books are in the first place about people (as opposed to talking rabbits or outer space, for example). Things may look worse than they are.
Since the CCBC is the source of the multicultural statistics that have been widely quoted since USA Today first used them in a feature article back in 1989, I decided to respond to Roger will some hard data. I took a look at the children’s and young adult trade books we have received so far in 2013 here at the CCBC. I counted the total number of books we have received, noting how many were about people, and how many were about nonhuman characters. I also counted how many were about white people and how many were about people of color. I was generous in my assessment: if a cover with a crowd of kids showed two or more kids of color, I counted it as multicultural. Similarly, if a cover showed two people and one was a person of color, I counted it as multicultural. I was struck by how many middle-grade fiction books show three kids on the cover, a la Harry Potter, all of them white.
The really dismal numbers come with fiction, both middle grade and young adult. Anyone who is up on trends in children’s and young adult book publishing knows that fiction (a/k/a chapter books and novels) make up the bulk of what is currently being published. Our stats so far for 2013 bear this out. We have received 682 works of fiction to date this year, which makes up 45.19% of our total. Just 32 of them are about non-human protagonists (Most of these were animals; I only counted paranormals if there was no interaction with mortals in the story.) That means 95.3% of all fiction titles are about human beings. Of the 650 books about human beings, 614 feature white characters, and just 36 feature people of color as main characters. That amounts to just 5.27% of the total.
So to get back to Roger’s semi-facetious response, here is the big picture. Of the 1509 books published in 2013 that we have received so far, 1183 (or 78.3%) are about human beings. If we subtract the 326 books about nonhuman characters from the overall total and just figure the percentages of books about people of color among the books with human characters only, we still get a fairly dismal number: of the 1183 books published so far in 2013 about human beings, 124 of those books feature people of color. That’s 10.48%. We’re only half way through the publishing year and the fall season is usually the heaviest, but it still looks like we are on track for yet another year of stagnation.
So in other words:
and just 36 feature people of color as main characters. That amounts to just 5.27% of the total.
It seems that if we’re talking main characters in fiction (and this is Fiction Week), it’s actually worse. Which might explain why you’re having such a hard time finding them. :|