January 16, 2016

Photo by Sari Goodfriend 

Kara Walker’s (b. 1969) debut occurred in 1994 with her mural “Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart.” Not only is this piece a mouthful to speak, but it will stop you dead in your tracks, as will most all of Walker’s work. In her classic black cut-paper silhouette mural style, Walker shows us an old-timey southern scene full of sex and slavery, employing ethnic stereotypes in the physicality of the characters to dep...

January 2, 2016

Photo by Michele Mattei 

Betye Saar, age 89, a native to Los Angeles, is known for her multimedia collages, box assemblages, altars and installations consisting of found materials. She was a late bloomer in the art world, creating her most famous piece at the age of 46 that launched both her reputation as well as a series of works that followed. That piece, “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima,” consists of a wooden box containing a smiling “mammy” doll carrying a broom in one hand and a shotgun in the other, placed in front o...

December 19, 2015

Photo credit: Unknown 

If I could urge you to remember just one individual in my personally-curated list of 25 exceptional and iconic African American artists (and we’re only on #2; there are 23 more giants to come), I would urge you to remember Lorna Simpson. Make a note in your brain: Remember Lorna Simpson. Remember Lorna Simpson. Remember Lorna Simpson. She’s that damn good.

I don’t remember how I came to find her work—it was about a year ago—but I know that I have barely scratched the surface of really taking in what...

December 5, 2015

Photo by Stefan Ruiz, The New York Times 

Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930) is a painter, writer, speaker, mixed media sculptor and performance artist. She learned how to sew as a child from her mother. Her signature work is her evocative series of “story quilts,” which include both imagery and handwritten text; she made her first of these, “Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima,” in 1983. Ringgold is also professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego where she taught art from 1987 until 2002. She is the r...

November 25, 2015

Over the next few months, I will be calling our attention to 25 living and thriving African American visual artists and their work, in posts I call, “Have You Heard Of…?” Why? Because, among other areas of unconsciousness, we white folks share a collective, national blind spot to the extraordinary contributions black Americans have made, are making, to the diverse tapestry we call American Art. We have failed and continue to fail at making their names our household names that are spoken amongst the predominantly white m...

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