What We're Reading: Where’s the Art in the AP African American Studies Curriculum?

"Ahead of the 2022–2023 school year, the College Board rolled out a pilot version of its new Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course. The class had been in the works for over a decade, and this pilot version is currently offered to students at only 60 high schools across the country," said Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic. "Last week, the College Board announced an updated official curriculum framework in advance of the course’s expansion into hundreds more schools that some critics say is missing a host of important artists, writers, and concepts."

Kelli Morgan, the director of curatorial studies at Tufts University, whose work focuses on anti-Blackness and anti-racism in the museum field, pointed to a handful of successful living Black artists whose work is not — and she says should be — included in the framework: Firelei Báez, Titus Kaphar, Harmonia Rosales, Alison Saar, and Renée Green among them. (Morgan is a recipient of Hyperallergic’s 2022–23 Emily Hall Tremaine Fellowship for Curators.)

Morgan, however, told Hyperallergic she was not surprised at the College Board’s amendments.

“I feel like we’re in this moment where White, capitalist, patriarchal supremacy is on its last legs — it kind of sees its own demise,” Morgan said. “So anything or anybody — Black scholars, Black authors, Black artists — who are producing work that not only demonstrates the dysfunctionality of White supremacist patriarchal capitalism but offers other options … There’s no way that’s gonna be handed to Black teenagers in high school.”

Morgan also spoke to the histories of African American Studies and Art Histories, stating that part of the reason she entered her line of work (which lies at the intersection of the two fields) is that Art History was behind the curve when it came to examining Black and African diaspora work, and African American Studies lagged behind in examining visual art at all.

“Music’s there, history and politics are there, but in terms of visual art, it was really small,” Morgan said.

“One thing I love about art is how wonderful it can be to have a mind that literally is trying to create something that doesn’t exist,” Morgan said. “We have to be able to see the possibility of beginning to be able to do what we want to do – being able to create the things we love or that we think of or that we conceptualize, within a system that is designed literally for us to die.”

“Seeing Black artists, especially these days at the level that is being done, is vital,” Morgan continued. “It’s beyond critical. It’s so vital to put that there.”

Read the full article here.