How to understand Black art across the diaspora


Art has always been a vital part of
Black Liberation Movements.

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. - Toni Morisson

Art creation has always been vital to Black liberation movements. Photographers have captured critical moments of change and have risked arrests and injury to document the resilience of activists and protesters as they advocate for justice. Artwork has been used to provide parallels between movements of the past and present. Artists provide new perspectives, visual languages and help us envision new ways of living. History of Black liberation is archived in many forms and knowing the history of art across the Diaspora is crucial to understanding the nuanced struggles of Black folk.

This project will be highlighting the role of art across the Diaspora and how it has been shaped by movements for justice. ISE-DA presents: 

The Art of Black Liberation. 

The Art of Black Liberation

The United States

Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people - the beauty within themselves. - Langston Hughes

 The Amistad Murals, Mural No.1, The Revolt, 1938 

   Oil on canvas  
  Hale Woodruff  

The Harlem Renaissance

1918 - mid 1930’s

 The pulse of the Negro world has begun to beat in Harlem
-  Alain Locke

The Harlem Renaissance (or the New Negro Movement) was an intellectual, artistic and social movement that occurred in the early 20th century. The Great Migration saw African-Americans leaving the South to move to Northern cities. With an economic boom and an increase in industrial job opportunities, the North was also considered to provide a more racially tolerant society.

Harlem was a popular city many African-Americans moved to and became a cultural epicenter that encouraged artistic expression, experimentation, and community. This era of rebirth provided a new sense of pride in their Blackness, which was expressed through music, literature, and art. While other cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles also expreienced a cultural explosion, Harlem was a focal point for this new era.

Chicago Black Renaissance

1930’s - 1950’s

I only had my brushes to fight with 
- Charles White

Dissimilar to the Harlem Renaissace, the Chicago movement did not have an influx of wealthy patrons. Instead, Black working-class individuals found support and community with each other, mixing visuals and sounds from the Southern migrants in with the culture of the Chicago residents. Notable artists include Charles White, Margaret Burroughs, Archibald Motley Jr., and Elizabeth Catlett. 

Flower Sniffer, 1966

Oil on canvas
Emma Amos
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