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This chapter argues that the view of art making and art appreciation that bell hooks develops in Art on My Mind is connected to the notion of an “ethics of love” that she develops in other writings through the concept of social aesthetics, and that her view of art making in many respects is a valorization of improvisatory practices. hooks is not widely acknowledged as an art critic, but she has woven aesthetic judgements and considerations into much of her writing. Because she is taken to be commenting on sociopolitical matters of race, decolonization, and liberation, however, her attention to aesthetics has sometimes been overlooked. Understanding social aesthetics to be a concept that occupies the space in which the aesthetic and the political overlap, the author shows that hooks’s attention to the beauty of everyday objects and crafts—her “aesthetics of the ordinary”—is a basic component of her project of making space within aesthetic discourse for the artistic practices and preferences of people who are not legitimized by an institutional theory of art and art making. This choice to contest the marginalization of the non-expert is distinctive of the philosophies of liberation within which hooks’s ethic of love is located.

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