19th and 20th century African American landscape and still life artists challenged visual colonial stereotypes developing psychological mindscapes inspired by nature and everyday life. Using depth, color, volume, and focal perspective, the artists embedded cosmos sensorial, cultural, and socio-political experiences in their visually imagined landscapes. Double consciousness Black cultural subjectivities informed their creative process as they rejected racialized assumptions of inferiority, shallowness, and criminality.
Edward Mitchell Bannister’s warm colors, Grafton Tyler Brown’s ephemeral blues, Robert S. Duncanson’s yellow golden glow, and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s green hues, are some of the visual political gestures that unsettled Eurocentric color patterns. Their artworks speak of idyllic sites free of racial, economic, and social injustices.
For those viewing these works of art, acknowledging our embedded extra-optical ideologies facilitates a transformative changed in the observer’s perception of color and space in relation to racialized and culturally codified knowledge.