Not merely a book about Guyana, but an impressively rendered story about imperialism in general and cultural imperialism in...

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A MOUTH IS ALWAYS MUZZLED

SIX DISSIDENTS, FIVE CONTINENTS, AND THE ART OF RESISTANCE

An illumination of the interplay of art, culture, politics, race, and history in Guyana, a Caribbean country mostly ignored by the rest of the world but which serves here as a fascinating microcosm for the power of art to inspire change.

This is a singular book, one that is not conventionally academic nor a conventional travel narrative nor a conventional work of arts criticism nor even a conventional piece of journalistic reportage, yet it draws from all of those disciplines as a deeply felt and passionately expressed manifesto. Cultural critic Hopkinson (Communication, Culture, and Media Studies/Howard Univ.; Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City, 2012) was born in Canada and has long lived in the United States, but she clearly feels a strong connection to Guyana, her parents’ homeland. She sets the scene with Guyana’s version of carnival, where there is a tension between unity and multiculturalism and where the government has co-opted so much of what was once indigenous culture in the country that “bills itself as the ‘Land of Six Peoples.’ ” The setting is the eve of the 2015 election, and tensions are running even higher in a country where dissidents have not only risked repression, but death. As the author writes, “there are…ethnic grudges raging beneath the surface of every conversation here. Like an arranged marriage that began to rot ages ago, the various races in Guyana know exactly how to swing where it hurts.” Hopkinson provides valuable context for colonialism, slavery, the importation of workers from India, the mythic El Dorado, and the death cult of Jim Jones, and she interweaves capsule histories of the brutal sugar industry and the empire built by the family that originally endowed the Booker Prize. The author also presents indelible portraits of activist writers and artists and of the martyr Walter Rodney.

Not merely a book about Guyana, but an impressively rendered story about imperialism in general and cultural imperialism in particular.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62097-124-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

MY NAME IS PRINCE

A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration.

St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) first met Prince in 1991 at a prearranged photo shoot. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. Many would be portrait sessions but done on impulse, like those in a burned-out Los Angeles building in 1994 and on the Charles Bridge in Prague in 2007. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. One in particular came about after the 1991 release of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album and led to the start of St. Nicholas’ career as a video director. Prince, who nurtured young artists throughout his career, pushed the author to “trust my instincts…expand myself creatively.” What is most striking about even the most intimate of these photographs—even those shot with Mayte Garcia, the fan-turned–backup dancer who became Prince’s wife in 1996—is the brilliantly theatrical quality of the images. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing.

A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-293923-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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