4 African American Contemporary Artist to Watch
In honor of Black History Month one of our wonderful interns, Sherri Peterson, put together a short list of contemporary artists to check out. In the comments section, feel free to add your own list of artists!
First up, John Backston. Interested in the visual language of coloring books, Bankston uses his work as a platform to inform the viewer on issues of race, gender roles and in some cases health issues. Bankston creates visually an imaginary fairy tale world that relates easily with the viewer.
Much like Bankston, the next artist, Kara Walker, also uses illustrations as a formative platform that is easily digested. Walker appropriates characters from the 19th century black stereotypes depicting racial, social, sexually explicit, and in some cases violent narratives about slavery in the south. Using black paper cut outs in an illustrative way, she not only connects to the viewer on many levels but also shocks them. The black silhouettes against the bare white gallery walls is particularly poignant to the reflections about a white dominated society.
Our next artist is from our sister state. I wanted to find someone that was close to home and not from a big city and wanted to show that even someone from a city like Winston-Salem could become an influential artist. Not unlike the two artists mentioned before, McMillians work has an underlining message of race. Primarily an installation artist, McMillian fuses together sculpture, painting and cloth to use light and dark as a way to illustrate the boundaries of economic stature, culture and the human body.
Hank Willis Thomas
The last artist is Hank Willis Thomas, a photographer, whose work also relates to race. Thomas engages the viewer through his photos to view how society has objectified the identity of African Americans. Thomas also takes a look back at the history of African American culture using symbols from the past and connecting them with future.
Blog post written by: Sherri Peterson