Ever since the dawn of time, humans have been exquisite beings keen on artistic expression and creativity.
Creative thinking has constantly been the catalyst for human advancement and the sole tool in aiding us to think out of the box to better understand our existence on this planet and to solve critical problems to ensure our survival as a species. One could easily say that over the years, humanity has been a constant revolving and evolving (sometimes devolving) art gallery.
When we look at art in its general form we often think about all of the different categories of art such as painting, poetry and music. But how often do we think about how art differs in those categories when it comes to the race/sex/religion of the artist? Do we look at how our skin and life experiences dictate the type of art that we create? The answer is yes, but not nearly enough.
The black experience in America is a dangerous but exhilarating game of chess.
The year 2020 has been full of strife, controversy, gloom and confusion but on a positive note this year’s Black Lives Matter movement has finally garnered the support that it should have had since the beginning of its inception. The black experience in America is a dangerous but exhilarating game of chess.
Black kids at an early age are often taught that we must sacrifice our creativity in order to have a chance at making it in this world. I personally remember being a young child being told that “Black people don’t get to make it as artists in America” and that artistic careers outside of music for African Americans are a long, slow and painful road that usually ends up with an unhappy ending. The irony in this sentiment is the fact that pretty much all of our modern-day artistic icons and legends all found their inspiration from or either appropriated black creatives.
When we look back through history, we can see how Black artists and Black art became the driving force behind equality and a critical tool for our survival.
Dating back to the days of slavery, quilt makers used quilts as maps to help navigate the Underground Railroad, stitching in symbols such as wagon wheels and log cabins to depict a safe house. Slave masters often punished slaves for singing and making instruments because they were afraid that music was being used as a tool for planned escapes.
If you fast forward time to periods such as The Harlem Renaissance (1920-1930s) or The Black Arts Movement (1965-1975) you can see how black creatives alongside civil rights activists and pioneers helped to change the dialogue and image about the levels of intelligence and creativity that black people possess. These movements wrote a clear message that Black Art is critical.
Black Artists in America and Black Artists in other countries have continued to shape the world we live in and make us rethink the human experience.
In the modern years of the 2000s it is still extremely evident that Black Artists are still necessary. Artists are usually huge empaths who are often in some state of depression, yet we are still hard at work creating and pushing boundaries in the name of black liberation. The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked millions of black sourced artistic expressions that have gone viral and have been shared by people in every corner of the globe. These expressions facilitate hard conversations that turn into meaningful dialogue which then morphs into tangible change.
The list of contributions by Black Artists is endless. Black Artists in America and Black Artists in other countries have continued to shape the world we live in and make us rethink the human experience.
There are many local black artists that I support and want to uplift, but here are two that I feel are making serious waves in pushing the boundaries of creativity and working towards creating sustainable and substantial change in their corresponding communities:
"Jai-Anna Carter is a young, creative and communicator from Hopkins, South Carolina. As an artist, she specializes in storytelling through visual media and communications. Her photography and videography are conceptional and detail-oriented and create storylines that capture attention and draw ethos.
Jai collaborates with clients across industries and fields, including athletics, dance, agriculture and leadership development. Her niche is finding businesses, organizations and initiatives that want to complement their brand with powerful and meaningful visual media. Jai identifies the unique story of each client and guides a creative process to sell, persuade, rally, connect or campaign to valuable stakeholders.
A 2019 Columbia College graduate and a product of Richland One schools, Jai works to impact the world of film by telling cultural stories of the South, through multimedia communications as a contemporary Black woman. Her degrees are in Studio Art, Communication Studies and Public Relations, allowing her to effectively work across sectors. Jai closely aligns both her work and service to community impact organizations such as the Gullah Project, Y Not Believe N U and Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands."
"My visual art transforms as it relates to its conceptual theme, pathos, and time. From thoughts, my work emerges. Then, I explored drawings, photographs, and film to illustrate these thoughts. My process is influenced by Lauryn Hill’s comments regarding experiencing life and using those thoughts to create a reality. The reality of life’s cultures, systems, and representational figures are what defines this experience as art. Art gives us identity. My process of creating art allows the viewer to explore the reality of the many facets of the human experience."
Visual, sonic and literary artist and healer B Dukes explores the intersections within the black community while currently concentrating on embracing and capturing community in its natural state while also reclaiming sacred spaces for ritualistic healing using medicine from the land. Originally from the small town Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, and now Bay Area based, they seek out the roots and truth amongst all communities they enter. Interweaving their primary photography practice with their deep south traditional musical roots and innovative thoughts of transforming the mental health and hearts of community via ancestor practices and medicines, reshaping and restructuring the mental capacity is their first love. B Dukes seeks to constantly challenge and research the parallels of truth and perception.
During his residency at Richland Library, Crush's main focus is on helping artists during this time of unrest by hosting virtual artist meet-ups, listening to local artists affected by the pandemic and creating a dialogue around issues of racial equity in the local art scene. Connect with Crush, here.