Book Review:
Art on My Mind

by bell hooks

Review by Grae Bowen

Art on My Mind is, like all of bell hooks’ work, an insightful and incisive perspective on the art world through lived theory that demonstrates an approachable praxis toward decolonizing visual culture by understanding how the white gaze effects and harms artists as individuals and threatens to erase histories of black communities.

What I love about her writing is that she is clear and direct, her logic is easy to follow, yet she is able to maintain an up front and unapologetic vulnerability that invites the reader to let their ideological or analytical guard down (or maybe that’s just me).

The ideas she presents challenge the reader to open their heart and really believe that subjective experience has dire value to contextualize and critique the histories we assume to be true. Challenging assumed values and ideological histories of art and culture, hooks provides a portal to another methodology of theory and praxis with art, returning time and again from different approaches and to different ends to the need for decolonization. Ever an approachable writer, hooks’ work would be enormously beneficial for readers who appreciate and study art and art criticism but may be asking questions about the human element or what histories they aren’t learning in class.

A curious reader may benefit from reading great thinkers such as W.E.B. Dubois, Franz Fanon, and Stuart Hall for more insight into visual politics and decolonization.