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African-American Art (ART 2720)

Purpose: in a written format, students will demonstrate an intimate familiarity with a major African-American artist, further develop critical-thinking skills, and convey how his/her work informs (and/or is informed by) contemporary society.

The Paper’s Focus

For the artwork chosen, your paper must be:

  • a total of five (5) pages in length, typed, 12 point font, 1” margins on all sides; 1.5” line spacing o focused on a work of art from the National Museum of African American History & Culture’s “Culture Gallery”

The Museum Part

  • Meet the class on the designated date and time noted on the class’ Cource Calendar to make an in-person visit to the museum:
  • National Museum of African-American History & Culture (Location: 1400Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20560 )
    • Please plan your trip by visiting the museums’ website to learn how to get there. (Closest Metro: Federal Triangle on the Orange, Blue & Silver lines)
  • Take these instructions with you to remind yourself of what you should be observing in order to write your paper.
  • Select the work of one (1) artist. The work can be of any media, support or content you choose.
    • Keep in mind your chosen artwork must be seen in person at the museum, not simply on the Internet, since it is difficult to write about elements and principles from digital images.
    • Please note that the museum does not permit flash photography or photographing works that are on display through Special Exhibitions.
  • If an artwork has been chosen from a Special Exhibition, please either purchase a postcard or some other copyrighted image to submit with your paper.

The Writing Part

  • In the body of the paper, analyze your chosen work as follows, using ampliative responses to:
    • Provide a brief biography on the artist only containing information relevant to the artwork chosen as the focus for this paper.
    • Specifically, focus on the:
      • artist’s influences and general style
      • state whether your chosen work is within the artist’s typical style. If not, describe the departure and discuss the reason for it.
      • research, then describe the artist’s development of your chosen artwork
  • Identify the work’s style and iconography.
  • Analyze the visual elements of art and principles of design used in your chosen artwork by discussing how those technical aspects enhanced its content.
  • Explain the various thoughts and ideas of the content represented by your chosen artwork and how they affect the look or style of the artwork. Discuss how your work builds upon, reacts to or rebel against the historical/social and/or cultural period in which it was produced.
  • Evaluate the influence and importance your chosen artist and his/her work has had in defining contemporary African-American thought and ideas from the general perspective of our community.
  • The paper must also include a Works Cited page, which will not be counted as part of the page limit. With regard to references, please keep in mind PGCC prefers the MLA style.


The Submission-requirements Part

  • Without exception, a labeled color image is required.
    • Under the image, correctly label the work as one would for an Art Criticism Identification.
  • A hard copy of the cover page, color image, and Works Cited pages are due in class on the date the artist paper is due.
  • Finally, submit the electronic version of the paper:
    • as a single submission of one (1) file, through the Safe Assignment link made available on the course’s Blackboard site (in the Course Content / Required Projects / Artist Paper path), by 11:59 pm ET on the date the paper is due, so begin submitting your document no later than 11:30 pm ET to ensure it is received on time...just in case there is a glitch.
  • Under no circumstances will any late papers be accepted

Please be aware that this is the general assignment and your professor may have altered the requirements. Always refer to your professor for the most up to date information.