Black History Month — The Importance of Celebrating Black Art

In a society where the contributions of Black people are often marginalised or overlooked, Black History Month provides an opportunity to shed light on the incredible achievements of some of the most influential figures in history. From inventors and activists to artists and entrepreneurs, Black people have made an indelible impact, and Black History Month is a time to celebrate and honour their contributions. This month-long observance serves as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and legacy of Black people, as well as the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.

Black art is an integral part of this history and it has been a powerful tool for telling the story of Black people and their experiences. From the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter and beyond, Black artists have used their talents to create works that reflect their community, their culture, and their struggles. These artists have pushed the boundaries of what is considered art, creating works that are bold, innovative, and deeply rooted in the Black experience.

Black art has the power to educate and inspire. It provides a window into the lives and experiences of Black people, and it helps to deepen our understanding of the world. Through Black art, we can see the beauty, resilience, and strength of the Black community and the struggles they have faced and overcome. This art is a powerful reminder that Black history is not just a series of events, but a vibrant, ongoing story that is constantly being told and retold.

One of the best ways to celebrate Black History Month is by exploring the works of Black artists, who have used their talents to express the joys, struggles, and experiences of the black community.

These following artists in particular have made significant contributions to the world of art and are well worth exploring during this month of celebration:

1. Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas was an abstract expressionist painter and a leader of the Washington Color School. She was the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her vibrant and energetic paintings, which often feature bright colours and bold patterns, reflect her joy in life and her belief in the power of art to bring happiness and healing to those who view it.

Alma Thomas The Eclipse

The Eclipse, 1970 by Alma Thomas

2. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Haitian-American artist born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. He rose to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a key figure in the underground art scene in New York City. Basquiat's work often features social and political commentary and explores themes of race, class, and power. He used a unique style that combined elements of street art, graffiti, and primitive art with elements of modernist painting.

Basquiat was friends with famous people such as musician Debbie Harry and artist Andy Warhol, who also became a subject of his art.

3. Winfred Rembert

Winfred Rembert is a self-taught leather artist from rural Georgia who creates intricate and colourful scenes depicting the struggles and triumphs of African Americans. Through his works, Rembert pays homage to the cultural heritage and traditions of the South, while also exploring the challenges and injustices faced by the black community. His works are an inspiring and powerful tribute to the resilience and strength of the black community, and are an essential part of any exploration of black history.

Winfred Rembert The Dirty Spoon Cafe

4. Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence was an African-American painter and printmaker born on September 7, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He is widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century and is known for his colourful, dynamic style and his depictions of African-American life and history. Lawrence's work often explores themes of migration, struggle, and triumph, and his use of vibrant, flat planes of colour and stylised forms have made him one of the most recognisable and influential artists of his time. Lawrence was the first African American to have a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

5. Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is a renowned artist and author who has made a significant impact on the world of art and literature. Known for her vibrant quilts, which often feature political and social commentary, Ringgold has used her art to shed light on the experiences of African Americans and to inspire a new generation of artists and activists. Her works are a testament to the power of art to change lives and make a difference in the world.

Faith Ringgold Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles

Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, 1996 by Faith Ringgold

By exploring the works of artists like Winfred Rembert, Alma Thomas, and Faith Ringgold, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage and legacy of the black community, and be inspired to continue the fight for equality and justice for all.

As we near the end of another Black History Month, it's important to reflect on the impact this observance has on our understanding of our history and culture. While February is a time to celebrate and recognise the achievements of Black people, it's also important to consider how we can continue to learn and grow throughout the year.

Celebrating Black art is also a way to support Black artists and to ensure that their work continues to be recognised and valued. Black artists have often been marginalised and underrepresented in mainstream art circles, but their contributions are just as important and deserving of recognition. Celebrating Black art means recognising the talent and creativity of Black artists and helping to preserve their legacy for future generations.

More from Rest In Pieces

"This puzzle introduced me to a new artist, who I am very happy to know!"

Pomegranate seek to further the recognition of Black artists and freethinkers through their Black art jigsaw puzzles. Discover beautiful, matte-finished jigsaw puzzles from seminal Black artists like Jacob Lawrence, Winfred Rembert, and Archibald Motley.

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