Black art has been part of America for over 400 years. Last year, our country remembered the first enslaved Africans brought to the U.S. in 1619. Although much of their first-hand history can never be recovered, the culture that they embodied flourishes in our communities. As we celebrate Black History Month, museums across the country are exhibiting artists of African descent in an attempt to honor our contributions.
If art is the place where our cultural and social discussions are unfolding, we need to center Black artists now more than ever. For far too long, Black artists have been left out of crucial conversations about their own work and its place in contemporary culture. At the same time, communities of color have not been engaged as arts audiences because they take place in elite and exclusionary spaces.
So many arts institutions implicitly continue the legacy of segregation, unable to engage communities of color. Compounding this problem is the lack of Black staff in the arts, and the lack of Black voices in arts media. Our goal is to connect viewers with art that represents and expands their understanding of the diasporic experience.
There are Black cultural institutions that you can support across the nation. Some of our NYC favorites include Weeksville, MoCADA, Sugar Hill Museum, CCADI and The Studio Museum (their collection is on the move at Smith College Art Museum!) Our friends at Museum Hue have put together a map of museums presenting artists of color. Find your new favorite now!
Image credit: I love me a quilt, but a painting will do in a pinch! Faith Ringgold, Early Works #25: Self-Portrait (1965), courtesy of Brooklyn Museum. We know and love Faith Ringgold as a quilting superstar, but this self-portrait shows her hand is just as strong in other media. I dare you to find a better use of aqua!