|Through excerpts and profiles, this inspiring book presents the experiences of twelve African American artists who teach at traditionally White colleges and universities.
Navigators vividly brings to life the stories of twelve African American artists who teach music, dance, and visual arts at colleges and universities that have traditionally been viewed as White institutions. In this captivating and moving book, Theresa Jenoure shows that there's a great deal to be learned from the experience of these teachers. She explores their visions and callings as creative artists and how they function in higher education. In so doing, she presents relevant ideas about the development and sustenance of creativity.
African American artists have played a monumental role in the evolution of American culture. Mainstream artists from Picasso to Martha Graham to the Rolling Stones have dipped into the wellsprings and drawn inspiration from the creative expressions of African Americans throughout the nation's history. In informal but profound ways, they have been models and mentors, exerting tremendous leadership in the arts but have had little influence over the formal study of their knowledge in schools.
As the twelve teachers' stories unfold, they share their hearts generously and speak their minds frankly, offering kaleidoscopic glimpses into their biographies. They talk about the various paths that led them to become artists and teachers, honoring special people and incidents that have aided them along the way. They identify some of the ways they became politicized, aware, or even positioned in social and political terms, giving names to forces that have shaped their views on social group membership. These are the stories we need to hear. Their voices resonate powerfully, presenting a rare opportunity to be moved and changed.
Much more than merely an objective look at African Americans and the arts, Navigators is as alive and vibrant as the music, art, and dance it describes. Jenoure includes profiles and riffs to serve as bridges between the chapters. The profiles offer closer looks at four of the teachers; and the riffs, much like highly creative jazz compositions from which the word is borrowed, are interjected between the chapters, helping to merge fact with fiction.
"With clarity and elegance, Navigators explores what it means to teach and learn at contemporary U.S. colleges and universities through the words of African American artists/teachers. There are lessons for all of us here, not only about teaching and learning, but also about artistry, humanity, and determination. By telling their stories in the manner of the creativity she so admires and celebrates, Theresa Jenoure joins the ranks of these inspiring and caring teachers. This is a remarkable book!" -- Sonia Nieto, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"Theresa Jenoure has not written a traditional academic study in a traditional fashion. She has improvised and created, thought deeply and wisely. Read her carefully. There is much to learn from Navigators." -- from the Foreword by John Bracey, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"Writing about African American artists and 'aesthetic' educators from an insider's perspective is much needed. Having her twelve informants tell their own stories gives authenticity to issues and experiences, and voice to a population that is too frequently ignored or marginalized in higher education. Jenoure's style of analysis is on the cutting edge. Interesting, imaginative, and informative!" -- Geneva Gay, University of Washington, Seattle]
Theresa Jenoure is the Director of Augusta Savage Gallery and the Coordinating Director of Multicultural Programs at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also teaches at the university and at the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Creative Arts in Learning Program at Lesley College.