Kellie Jones: Eyeminded.
The book's other sections, “In Visioning,” “Making Multiculturalism,” and “Abstract Truths” each afford us an opportunity to consider afresh the changes and the remarkable new talents that emerged during the past couple of decades, a number of whom Jones has worked with, in her capacity as curator, essayist, or critic. In recent years, Jones has emerged as a singular researcher and commentator on the intriguing work of African American artists who embraced non-figurative practices during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In this regard, one of Jones's most important works is her text It's Not Enough to Say “Black Is Beautiful”: Abstraction at the Whitney 1969–1974. The text, which first appeared in Kobena Mercer's Discrepant Abstraction, published in 2006 by inIVA and MIT Press, is, in EyeMinded, reproduced in the book's final section, “Abstract Truths.” In the text, Jones revisits and dispassionately critiques the series of exhibitions by black abstract artists at the Whitney Museum between 1969 and 1974, which Jones asserts “presented a generation of black practitioners whose complex approaches to abstraction involved serious and intense formal experimentation” (420). This from someone who, as a child or early teenager, may well have seen a number of these exhibitions, and who was certainly known, even back then, to a number of the practitioners on whom Jones so compellingly and convincingly writes.
Though this is in essence a collection of Jones's previously published writings, it is nevertheless a major contribution to aspects of art history that too often are relegated to the periphery within both the academy and contemporary art criticism. In this regard, we have much to thank Jones for, as this volume will be an indispensable aid to students, professors, and general audiences, many of whom might not have easy access to Jones's writings, in their original form and assorted contexts. Though Jones herself clearly sets great store by her familial connections and their contributions to EyeMinded, the book's structure is such that the reader can take or leave the familial embellishments, many of which, at the very least, provide unusual routes through which we can further consider the work of this hugely important art critic, cultural commentator, exhibition curator and academic.
The full version of the above text written by Eddie Chambers appeared in Journal of American Studies, (Cambridge University Press), Number 46, 2012: 237 - 239