Aesthetics of Excess: The Art and Politics of Black and Latina Embodiment by Jillian Hernandez
Heavy makeup, gaudy jewelry, dramatic hairstyles, and clothes that are considered cheap, fake, too short, too tight, or too masculine: working-class Black and Latina girls and women are often framed as embodying "excessive" styles that are presumed to indicate sexual deviance. In Aesthetics of Excess Jillian Hernandez examines how middle-class discourses of aesthetic value racialize the bodies of women and girls of color. At the same time, their style can be a source of cultural capital when appropriated by the contemporary art scene. Drawing on her community arts work with Black and Latina girls in Miami, Hernandez analyzes the art and self-image of these girls alongside works produced by contemporary artists and pop musicians such as Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, and Nicki Minaj. Through these relational readings, Hernandez shows how notions of high and low culture are complicated when women and girls of color engage in cultural production and how they challenge the policing of their bodies and sexualities through artistic authorship.