Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Dacey, Robert

Second Advisor

Blake, Marty


African American art, Black representation

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


This thesis explores the problem of representing the identities, experiences, and ideasof people of African descent in the United States. It proceeds from the premise that this problem, which can shape everyday personal experiences, has also been critical to African American cultural production. This thesis examines these phenomena in two ways. First, it explores how African American writers grappled with the challenge of representing Black people collectively at various historical moments. Then negotiate the challenges I faced as an artist creating visual representations of multiple themes and facets of the writers' lives, identities, and ideas. Together, the two parts of the thesis provide an opportunity to reflect on configurations of Black people's identities and the complex and contested interpretations of Blackness – i.e., what it means to navigate the category Black.


Open Access

Available for download on Thursday, November 06, 2025