No, not every deserving artist gets their first taste of attention through one of the art world’s largest platforms such as the legendary Art Basel show, or the Frieze Art Fair. In particular, African-American artists and other artists of color are still working towards greater visibility in the highest spheres of the rarified art community. Thus, there can never be too many lists bringing attention to the abundance of talented creators on the cusp of discovery who are ready to emerge.
Here are the fresh faces and more established visionaries still gaining ground that you need to know in 2014. The African diasporan artists compiled in the photo gallery above carry forth the traditions set in motion by visual artists from significant eras such as the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, yet speak with new images and forms that lead us into the future.
With their various approaches to creativity, visual communication, and craft, these artists each examine critical issues of the past, present and future that reflect our shared experiences across the intersecting lines of race, class, gender, sexuality and politics. Through their works, the experiences of those of the African diaspora — and beyond — are critiqued, celebrated and preserved.
Visibility is essential to supporting the continued success of these artists, and ensuring that black artists — who are increasingly gaining recognition — continue to render our images in refined and thoughtful forms from the art world’s center stage. Regardless of whether these artists ever appear at Art Basel, or already have, please keep your eyes to the wall (and in some cases the floor, ceiling, and sidewalks), because you will want to follow these folks, who are the latest provocateurs, innovators and dreamers.
These selections are not ranked in any order to acknowledge equally the importance of each artist’s style — with the awareness that there are likely more great visual “voices” out there who deserve recognition. Let us know who else should be included in the comments section below.
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(Editor’s note: Living editor of theGrio.com, Alexis Garrett Stodghill, owns a painting by one of the artists featured, Tamara Natalie Madden. This list was independently curated by the article author.)