These 4 Black Artists Made My Life (and Instagram Feed) a Little Brighter
Because art is often used to stir emotion and inspire masses, this is such a critical time for Black artists. Their art helps us to scratch away at the larger picture and gives us a window into the hearts of the Black lives we are fighting for […] I learned to tune into cultures outside of my own, and with that, I was given the irreplaceable gift of Black art. It brought me beauty, it brought me humanism, and it brought me wisdom.
All around the world, artists are using their talents, stories and visions to help the Black Lives Matter movement blossom into a collective call for change. Because art is often used to stir emotion and inspire masses, this is such a critical time for Black artists. Their art helps us to scratch away at the larger picture and gives us a window into the hearts of the Black lives we are fighting for.
I’ll be the first to admit that before this year, I didn’t know of many Black artists. I could blame it on the mainstream art culture in America having a spotlight built in for white artists and creators, but instead I want to take responsibility for not opening up my world sooner to these incredible visionaries. I learned to tune into cultures outside of my own, and with that, I was given the irreplaceable gift of Black art. It brought me beauty, it brought me humanism, and it brought me wisdom.
Below, I will introduce you to some of the Black artists I love. I hope you’ll appreciate them as much as I do!
Prince Gyasi is the PRINCE of color. According to the Ghanaian photographer, “color can serve as a therapy, it can treat depression and transform emotions.”
Only 23 years old, Gyasi learned to love photography at a young age. When his mother would go fabric shopping, she’d drop him off at a small photography studio. This experience piqued his interest, leading to experiments with cellphone photography in high school. Even now, he purposefully takes stunning photos with only his phone, as a way of challenging himself.
He takes most of his photos in his hometown of Accra. He places his subjects in front of vivid, hyper-saturated backgrounds so that they stand out, showing the beauty of Black skin. He aims to highlight human emotions and how they tie into roles of fatherhood, motherhood and childhood.
Gyasi is the co-founder of BoxedKids, which fosters the education and creativity of underprivileged children in Jamestown, Accra. He has been recognized by Vanity Fair, Apple Inc., BBC World and BBC Africa.
Tiffany Alfonseca is a mixed media artist based in the Bronx. Being Dominican-American, she creates art that represents Black and Afro-Latinx diasporic culture.
She draws inspiration from her own upbringing, painting and drawing images of black women in different settings. She paints with the same shade of bubblegum pink in her depictions of womanhood, and paints women sitting in salon chairs and wearing hair curlers to show rituals that go along with being a Black woman. There are also recurring images of palm leaves and tropical plants in her work, which pay homage to her Dominican roots.
Her work is so touching because in through it, we see her family, we see class and colorism. She uses specific scenes to invoke memory, while simultaneously stirring emotion and nostalgia in those who view her work. Her identity shines through all of her work.
Temi Coker is a photographer and graphic designer who was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and currently lives in Dallas Texas. He creates striking mixed media images that pop with color and pattern, and each one seems to take on a life of its own.
He starts with photos of his black subjects, which are taken in black and white. Then, he lets his artistic vision take over, adorning the images with shapes and fragments inspired by his Nigerian roots. He loves to play around with color.
An Adobe Aero resident, he is currently creating art like no one has ever seen before with the augmented reality app. These 3D creations work especially great with his vibrant, prismatic style.
He has worked for Apple. Adobe, HarperCollins, Twitter, Google, Instagram and more.
Natasha Cunningham is a highly talented graphic designer from Kingston, Jamaica, who employs a similar method to Coker in which she combines black and white profiles of her black subjects with a medley of other colors and elements.
However, her signature style includes circles behind the profiles, use of florals and words, and heavier grain over her finished images. The result is unmatched beauty, each creation blooming with the personality and grace of the subject.
What makes her art unique is that she formats her Instagram feed as “a portrait a day.” With this structure, we can see the care she gives each portrait and the life behind each person being photographed. Her art seamlessly weaves together a modern energy with a vintage style, leaving the viewer in awe of the eye she has for design.