Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of African American Artists

by Tonya Bolden

Hardcover, 2004



Local notes

759 Bol



Harry N. Abrams (2004), Edition: 1st, 128 pages. $24.95.


Presents a history of African American visual arts and artists from the days of slavery to the present.

Original language


Physical description

128 p.; 8.88 inches


0810945274 / 9780810945272



User reviews

LibraryThing member edspicer
Bolden does not claim to portray a comprehensive listing of all black American artists. Rather she writes about a wide variety of favorite artists using a variety of techniques. She writes to impress the reader with the diversity of talent in the African American art community from the earliest days in this country up to present day artists such as Faith Ringgold. While this book is obviously a fine reference for art teachers and a must have edition for good school libraries, there is plenty of fine material for history teachers and students of government.

A vignette from the section on Augusta Savage, for example, is one of the heart breaking examples of loss this country has endured because of racism. In 1939, Savage created a painted plaster sculpture entitled “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” This sculpture was 16 feet high. It looked like a harp. The “strings” featured a line of children singing. A strong arm and hand hold these singers in place and a kneeling boy holds musical notes in the front. It is a magnificent piece that was featured at the World’s Fair. Today only pictures and postcards exist; after the fair, workers bulldozed the sculpture because Savage did not have the money to have her sculpture moved and no one else stepped in to help this talented black woman.

The book is organized chronologically from “Early Strivings” through “Great Awakenings” and onto “Upward and Outward.” Bolden includes a glossary of terms, a selected bibliography, and recommended readings. This is a beautiful book. It is highly recommended for high school libraries and teachers desiring excellent biographical material on talented African Americans.
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LibraryThing member abbrown1
I am a particular fan of African American art and its progression in America. This text wonderfully surveys the movement of Black art from their striving to create art that resembled that of White artists to creating burgeoning new forms that reminisced of Ancestral lives and immortalized the struggles and triumphs of Black life in the times these artists created. What I liked most about the book was how the author weaved a story between each artists featured. From the beginning artists to the last, she showed how they were related in creations, hometowns, schooling, or acquaintance. This was powerful because it showed the continuum of Black artists and that Black art and its progress is not stagnant. This text demonstrated how the inspiration from one artist to the next continues a tradition whose roots run deep. The art work featured in the book was awesome and the short description help ground the purpose of the piece. The author also exposed readers to much art language and provides a glossary of these terms for easy reference. The book, being a survey book, is divided into eras as subtopics with Black art being the overarching topic. The artists, as mentioned before, are organized for earliest to latest and their relationships are shown within the text as how they knew each other or how their particular creations are the same. Great book!… (more)




(4 ratings; 4.9)
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