Aesthetics of Excess

The Art and Politics of Black and Latina Embodiment

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 120 color illustrations Published: November 2020

Art and Visual Culture, Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Gender and Sexuality

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.


Aesthetics of Excess brings together culo, spandex, and style to make bold provocations on race, aesthetics, and embodiment. Making a sparkling intervention into conversations on racialized sexuality, Hernandez uses the "body narratives" we inherit to add fleshy substance to our understanding of how color, culture, and class shape how subjects traverse geographies of belonging.” — Juana María Rodríguez, author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings

“I am thrilled that Jillian Hernandez has found a thoughtful, thorough way to begin a conversation around the Latinx, academic, and institutional discomfort with what they perceive as young women's problematic, not-Latina-feminist-enough gender politics. What a joy it is to know that this highly original and downright necessary book is now in the world. Aesthetics of Excess makes an outstanding contribution to feminist scholarship.” — Maria Elena Buszek, author of Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture

"There’s a real beauty to being able to own yourself and how you show up in the world; Aesthetics of Excess illuminates it." — Evette Dionne, Bitch Media


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jillian Hernandez is Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexualities, and Women's Studies at the University of Florida.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
Interlude One  29
1. Reading Black and Latina Embodiment in Miami  37
2. Sexual-Aesthetic Excess: Or, How Chonga Girls Make Class Burn  63
3. "Fine as Hell": The Aesthetic Erotics of Masculinity  99
Interlude Two  133
4. Rococo Pink: The Power of Nicki Minaj's Aesthetics of Fakery  145
Interlude Three  187
5. Encounters with Excess: Girls Creating Art, Theory, and Sexual Bodies  201
Interlude Four  233
Epilogue  251
Notes  271
References  279
Index  293
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1110-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1005-0