Elevating Black Artists

Elevating Black Artists

Article by Rianna Last

The Black Lives Matter movement has taken the U.S. by storm in recent weeks, bringing about societal transformations as epic as state name changes to radical shifts in leadership at major corporations. Notably, one important—yet less discussed—aspect in which African American lives have touched the U.S. lies in the arts, but whose heavy influence has gone unrecognized for decades. As we now watch the growth of a symbiotic relationship between #BlackLivesMatter protests working to shed light on African American artists’ significant impacts, and the art world responding to and supporting the movement, Artlita is vowing to be part of the change.

Portrait rendition of former President Barack Obama by Black artist Kehinde Wiley
“Barack Obama”, 2017. Art by Kehinde Wiley

In the wise words of African American artist Romare Bearden, “You should always respect what you are and your culture because if your art is going to mean anything, that is where it comes from.” Taking a look at some of the most influential and famous African American artists in recent decades, we can see this ideal reflected in modern and contemporary black art. You may have heard of Mark Bradford—an LA artist—whose pieces highlight black history and are a reflection of the struggles he has faced as an African American man. Vibrant, textured, and layers-deep, his work evokes raw emotions. Kehinde Wiley, yet another LA native perhaps most known for his portrait rendition of former President Barack Obama, has become an iconic household name. He’s famous for his portrait paintings—a blend of realism and various period styles. Expanding our gaze, these two artists are drops in the ocean of the talent that lies in America, whose work has yet to be uncovered.

As a southern California art gallery whose goal is to uplift rising artists and showcase meaningful art that inspires, Romare Bearden’s stance is integral to our mission. Artlita offers undiscovered artists the chance to showcase their work and gain visibility and prominence in the art world, and we want to inspire our clients as we do so.   

Are you a rising African American artist in the Southern California and Baja California regions? We want your work featured on our website! Submit a form online and become part of the Artlita Artist Community. 

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