“speaking His mind in my mind”: Racialized Theology, Divine Inspiration, and African American Art


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This project addresses religion, cultural identity, and the politics of racial representation in the work of William Edmondson, Horace Pippin, Elijah Pierce, Minnie Evans, and Bill Traylor from the 1930s and 1940s. It explores what they all experienced in the church, asks why most professed a divine inspiration and discusses how a racialized theology helped them generate ways of confronting real life issues through scripture. Using individual case studies featuring artist interviews, church sermons, and popular religious imagery, this dissertation links their divine calling and faith to shifts in African American church theology. It looks at where the religious faith of each artist intersected with representations of race and how their visual language imagined a faith-based response to violence.