Art of the Black Woman: Five Black Artists You Should Know

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There’s no denying that we are culture creators. We’ve inspired movements like the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement.

We’ve inspired contemporary sculptures, paintings, and critical works that question social norms, express our experiences and celebrate our culture.

Today, we’re highlighting 10 Black artists you should know - and showing the power of the Black woman in the process.

Amy Sherald

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Sherald’s  work and study of art have taken her to the furthest corners of the world. Born in Columbus, GA, Sherald attended Clark Atlanta University and apprenticed under Dr. Arturo Lindsay while taking courses at Spelman College.

After curating shows in the Museu de Arte Contemporaneo and the 1999 South American Biennale in Lima, Peru, Sherald moved to Baltimore, MD and began to infuse more social critique into her work.

Most recently, her paintings have been acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Smithsonian Museum of African American Art in Washington, D.C.

Rubi Onyinyechi Amanze

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You can find Amanze in New York or Philadelphia, where she creates as an Artist-in-Residence at the Queens Museum and a participant in Open Sessions 2015-2017.

Born in Nigeria and raised in the U.K., Amanze’s work as a visual artist conveys a “non-linear and open narrative” that explores “space as a malleable construct” and highlights post-colonial non-nationalism.

She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (summa cum laude) from Tyler School of Art at Temple University and Master of Fine Arts.F.A from Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

In 2012-2013, she served as a Fulbright Scholar to study drawing at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Ebony G. Patterson

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Ebony’s craft as a mixed-media artist fuses drawing, painting, installation, street projects, tapestries, and photography to create works that expand our perceptions of reality and break boundaries into three-dimensional masterpieces.

Her subject matter is diverse yet often critical of social norms and gendered stereotypes.

Mequitta Ahuja

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Mequitta Ahuja’s latest creations “positions a woman of color at the fulcrum of discourse on representation.” However, Black women - including herself - have often served as the central theme of her work.

As the daughter of an African-American mother and South Asian Indian father, cultural understandings and perceptions help inform her work as well. Using the figurative painting tradition, Ahuja pays tribute through art that showcases, critiques, and transforms.

In her own words, she “repurposes ideas and approaches to painting across time and geography including Egyptian form Giotto frescoes, Hindu figuration and early American painting.”

Her work is currently on exhibit across the U.S. including the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and First Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, TN through September 2017.

Augusta Savage

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Augusta Savage is a classic sculptor that, though deceased for some time, deserves recognition at any mention of a Black woman artist. She has been deemed the “most important Black woman sculptor of the 20th century.”

Savage gained prominence during the Harlem Renaissance where she was well-known as a sculptor, art teacher, and community art program director.

As a portrait sculptor, Savage completed the busts of Black history legends including W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey.

In doing so, she was one of the first artists to consistently deal with Black physiognomy and would also become the first African-American member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors and the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center.

While the end of her art career was tumultuous at best, her work continues to live on and she helped to pave the way for other artists we celebrate today.

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