Black History and American Art

Black History Month remains a powerful symbolic celebration and a time for acknowledgement, reflection, and inspiration. This year we welcome the chance to acknowledge, reflect upon, and be inspired by African Americans and the Arts, the theme for 2024. On its webpage, The Association for the Study of African American Life and Culture states, “African American art is infused with African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experiences. In the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression, the African American influence has been paramount. African American artists have used art to preserve history and community memory as well as for empowerment. Artistic and cultural movements such as the New Negro, Black Arts, Black Renaissance, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism, have been led by people of African descent and set the standard for popular trends around the world”

Truly, all of our lives have been enriched, either directly or indirectly, by black artists in all walks of life – music, the visual arts, dance and performance, literature, etc. For centuries, black artists, and their contributions to the arts, were ignored or actively excluded from venues open and available to white artists. Yet, not only did the contributions to the arts survive this discrimination, they thrived in many places and under the most difficult circumstances. For example, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s saw an explosion of black talent in music, literature, and the visual arts. It was an explosion that still reverberates today. We all owe so much to these talented and creative artists.

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