Skip to content Skip to footer

Diversify art: The importance of Black artists and Black-owned galleries

While art may be the last on some people’s minds in these turbulent times, it’s also art that might just be what keeps people sane through it all.

This isn’t about your typical mainstream art, but instead the forms of art that have been put to the sidelines over the years, if not decades or even centuries.

Here are some Black artists and black-owned galleries you should be keeping your eyes on, and why they’re so important.

The things not all history books will tell you

The history of Black art in America can technically be traced back to the slave trade, but it’s only recently that Black art and artists as a whole have begun to enter mainstream society. Even so, there still seems to be a lack of widespread information about famous Black artists as opposed to the more “traditional” artistic canon.

Two major events that arguably contributed to the rise of modern Black art, however, include the Harlem Renaissance from 1918-1937, as well as the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s.

Awe-inspiring Artists

Movements like the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement have paved the way for artists such as Charles White and Jeff Donaldson, who emerged in the 1960s, but what’s also important to consider is that many more Black artists have continued to emerge since then.

This includes artists such as Deborah Willis, Renee Cox, Mark Bradford, and Lorna Simpson. The latter was also the first Black woman to present art at Venice Biennale, a famous contemporary art exhibit in Italy. Bradford also recently presented there as well back in 2017.

Despite the achievements of these creators, there still seems to be a lack of attention to Black artists. Even those who are famous in the mainstream art world still appear to be less widely-known in comparison to artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Cindy Sherman.

The question is: why? And what can people do to support these marginalized artists?

Time to share the spotlight

It seems because the roots of African-American art are rooted in times when Black people were more marginalized than they are now, it’s set a precedent that persists even to today. Because Black American art originated outside of the American art canon, it was forced to develop outside of it for decades if not centuries. 

While the representation of Black artists has certainly improved in the modern era, there still seems to be a lack of attention to them as well as Black-owned galleries even today.

The key to fixing this issue though is simple. By consuming art made by Black artists, supporting black-owned galleries, and sharing their works, we can start to draw attention to these marginalized artists.

The artists or galleries you wish to support don’t even need to be famous. Spreading word about local creators or galleries is just as vital.

This is especially important in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, but it shouldn’t stop there. Giving underrepresented creators, no matter what race or ethnicity, doesn’t just help them in breaking out into the mainstream art scene.

If you’re looking for venues to support, here are some Black-owned galleries you can help in these difficult times.

The beautiful thing about art and the creative community surrounding it is how it inspires other people. Diversifying the contemporary art scene will not just create a more enriched variety of artwork, but perhaps it may even inspire a new and more diverse generation of future artists.