There’s an observation month for everything and October just happens to be a time to appreciate Black visual artists. Black Fine Art Month was designed to celebrate the work of Black artists and their contributions to the visual arts world. The annual observation was entered into the Congressional record books in 2019 by Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
According to Zippia, Black artists make up 3.9% of artists employed in arts in the United States. The industry is predominately white and female with the highest employment demand in Irvine, California, which has almost no Black population. The statistics make it clear that choosing to support the work of Black visual artists must be approached intentionally.
Of course, we aren’t going to leave you hanging on trying to find artists to support. Here are 17 Black artists you can purchase art from right now.
Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre
Charles Philippe Jean-Pierre is a Haitian American artist from Chicago. He works as an adjunct fine arts professor at American University. He is also a U.S. State Department Art in Embassies artist whose work is featured in the permanent collection of the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa.
“The stark contradictions of beauty and power, as a theme, are ever-present as a theoretical and methodological struggle within Jean-Pierre’s overall body of work,” his artist statement reads. “His multimedia paintings speak to the nexus of political, social, and economic structures. Much of his work is representative of the synergy, or lack thereof, between societal perceptions and reality.”
Theresa Cates is a self-taught visual artist who turned to painting as a form of mental wellness.
“I sit on the floor to paint with my canvas pulled close to me, and while creating each piece, I find myself having to look at it from all directions,” she said. “I know I must feel each piece to convey what’s inside of me. And once I’m finished, a relationship has been established and I have completed what I set out to do. I don’t just want my paintings to be beautiful, I want them to set the atmosphere of wherever they are placed. Faith, joy, color and soul are the core of my paintings. These are what I believe to be the medicines of life.”
Randell Henry has been an artist member of the Baton Rouge Gallery since 1985. He works as an art professor at Southern University and A&M College. He serves on the board of directors of Baton Rouge Gallery and the DeBose Foundation.
Derrick Bell is a Cincinnati-born painter and furniture maker based in Oakland, California.
“My ongoing body of work explores constructions — the human family, spirituality and culture,” he said. “This against more tenuous subjects like inclusion, dignity, consumption, privilege, safety and subjectivity. In addition to the history of Black identity both in the United States and in Western art.”
Fleur De Tiff
Tiff is a New Orleans-born artist in Nashville who is also a pediatric dentist in residence.
“I’ve always loved art ever since I was young,” she said. “As a child, you could find me reading, sketching cartoons as I set in front of the TV, or writing short stories just for the hell of it. I’ve always had a wild imagination. About two years ago, I decided to revisit my love for art and began to teach myself how to draw figures. People actually liked my art and suggested I started selling it.”
Curated by Nakia Booker, MMXX: The Black Artivism Capsule is a collection of art by Black artists made in 2020.
“In the midst of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman, and Kobe and Gigi Bryant, we also had to witness the world reject the racist experiences of Harry and Meghan, endure the highest unemployment rate in the country’s history, and the Trump administration called for critical race theory, along with diversity and sensitivity training, to have funding removed,” the description reads.
Starvos simply describes himself as a painter and illustrator. The seasoned artist offers custom illustrations and more.
“While he is primarily self-taught, he had a brief period of formal training in art at Louisiana State University. He is always looking to let God speak in and through his work. Starvos’ original artwork often reflects his love for theology, African American culture, and New Orleans/Louisiana culture,” his artist statement reads.
Melissa A. Mitchell
Melissa A. Mitchell is the founder of A Better Life by Abeille Creations, which features wearable art and custom designs.
“ABL’s company focus shifted to creating an art collecting experience through apparel,” the website reads. “Each piece created is vibrant, memorable, and full of energy. Year after year, collections are produced in limited quantities and then discontinued to preserve the value of the artistic designs. Melissa uses ABL to educate people about art while transferring hope, confidence, and awareness.”
O’Brian Jones is a Dallas-based artist from Grady, Arkansas. It was there that he discovered his art had far-reaching limitations.
“Jones is a highly motivated, self-taught visual artist consistently finding inspiration for his art from the world around him,” his artist statement reads. “Through mixed media, Jones brings a contrivance to each piece he creates. His ability to illustrate his or his client’s vision and feelings on a blank canvas is his greatest joy.”
“Her artistic style is one of vibrancy, whimsy, and everything New Orleans — the city she loves and where her visual inspiration stems from,” according to her bio. “As the daughter of a jazz singer and the granddaughter of the Queen of Creole Cuisine Leah Chase, Chase’s passion for creativity has been well fed with the lush sounds and hearty tastes of the city. Through her artwork, she aims to capture the beauty, wonder and celebration of life in color, concept and subject matter. She sincerely thanks all visitors and hopes that her pieces bring you joy and all things wonderfully New Orleans.”
Lloyd Gregory Wade
Lloyd Gregory Wade describes himself as a griot who believes in visually connecting humanity and art.
“He loves to visually satisfy the viewer with a kaleidoscope of colors and a variety of cultural symbols and patterns,” his artist statement reads. “Lloyd’s artwork spans several different mediums and styles. Viewers will find most of the artwork is two-dimensional and varies in scale, but there are also three-dimensional works as well.”
John Isiah Walton
John Isiah Walton‘s work depicts unconventional stories.
“Walton works in a reactionary mode,” his artist statement reads. “His visual language is influenced by internet aesthetics, Black identity, pop culture, and Louisiana history to deliver poignant social commentary reflecting the contemporary world. In the tradition of Basquiat, his work often has hidden meanings and symbols, which are revealed through his neo-expressionist markings. The frenetic, choppy brushwork endows the work with the energy and intensity that the artist is known for.”
Lovie Olivia‘s work includes recurring themes of beauty, body, archeology, history and intersectionality.
“My paintings, prints, and installations reflect my interests in complex identities, cultural anthropology and social exchange through unusual methodologies,” her artist statement reads. “I employ a personally modified process of fresco (including digital fresco) that experiments with abstraction and incorporates my visual language as ways of exploring themes of race, gender, power, sexuality and the different value systems attached to them.”
Ted Ellis overall considers himself a passionate man.
“I paint subjects that are representative of the many facets of American life, particularly, African American culture and history, as I know it,” he said. “I like to think of myself as a creative historian. I was put here to record history, all aspects of American culture and heritage. My sole purpose has always been to educate through my art.”
ArtSoulLife is a Louisiana artist who works in a multitude of mediums with a significant focus on music-inspired art. His preferred medium is acrylic on wood. According to his website, each piece is hand-painted, hand-cut and sealed to ensure durability and longevity.
“A child of New Orleans, the musical mecca, ArtSoulLife was born with a natural affinity to compositions of all genres. His passion for music has pushed his artwork toward physical depth,” his artist statement reads. “This journey has taken his creations away from the two-dimensional realm and into a more tangible space. A hybrid of painting and sculpture.”
Cierra English is a photographer and visual artist who works in abstracts.
“It is this love for the arts that pushed me to pursue a career in photography and the arts,” her artist statement reads. “Some people say a photo speaks 1,000 words. Yes, I know we’ve all heard this cliche of a saying before, but I really believe it. There are thousands of different languages across the globe, that create a language barrier, but photos, photos can be understood universally! I find so much joy in capturing the precious moments in life that might otherwise be forgotten.”
Terrell Arts DC
Terrell Arts DC is a family of artists with 20 years of experience teaching art in classrooms, workshops, galleries and museums. According to the website, led by artists Zsudayka Nzinga and James Terrell, Terrell Arts DC strives to create opportunities for the community to interface with fine art.
”We use our art and our backgrounds teaching art to uplift the community,” their artist statement reads. “We host youth art competitions and exhibitions, create public art, engage in politics and community improvement, host painting events, live paint at events and much more.”
Happy intentional support of Black artists shopping to you!