Black Art in Brazil
Expressions of Identity

Kimberly L. Cleveland

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"Cleveland successfully problematizes the term Afro-Brazilian art as a category, challenging many assumptions about black art in Brazil specifically, and in the African Diaspora more broadly." --Heather Shirey, University of St. Thomas

"An insightful and clear discussion of the world of contemporary black art in Brazil. Cleveland’s handling of the ways and means through which these artists deal with artistic production and its intersection with broader sociocultural and racial matters is spot-on. This is an important contribution to Afro-Brazilian studies." --Anani Dzidzienyo, Brown University

For decades, Afro-Brazilian art was primarily associated with religious themes. However, developments in the national discourse on race, ethnicity, and black art in the latter part of the twentieth century have produced a shift away from sacred symbols to art more representative of the complete Afro-Brazilian experience.

In this book, Kimberly Cleveland analyzes how certain modern and contemporary Brazilian artists visually convey "blackness." Through the work of Brazilian artists from different parts of the country who utilize a wide range of media, including photography, sculpture, and installation art, Cleveland investigates how each artist articulates "blackness" through his or her unique visual vocabulary and points out the ways it reflects their lived experiences.

By examining how these artists explore their African cultural heritage, Cleveland reveals the many diverse ways artists confront social, economic, political, and historical issues related to race in Brazil. Most important, Black Art in Brazil highlights how the markers of black art and culture in Brazil have continued to grow and diversify.

Kimberly L. Cleveland is assistant professor of art history at the Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University.

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“An intelligent, well-written, adequately illustrated introduction to an important yet under-studied development in Brazilian art. It is an insightful contribution to the scholarship on art and race.”

“Cleveland looks, in an intelligent and instructive way, at the integral nature of black experience within the vibrant cultural fabric of Brazilian life and reminds us that the many stereotypes that have grown up around the subject of “Afro-Brazilian art” represent only a small fraction of the realities of today’s complex strategies of individual insight and creativity and collective expression.”
--The Americas; Quarterly Review of Latin American History

“Five Brazilian artists are featured who each add an important portion to the overall Brazilian art canon as well as Brazilian black art… this book does a fine job covering the true aspect of racism in Latin America, especially Brazil”
--Art Libraries Society of North America

Cleveland’s writing style, attention to the historical contexts of the themes she engages, and most centrally, her engagement with wxpressions of blackness, make this book a welcome contribution to the field.
--Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe

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