History

Art, Politics & SocietyGordon Park's Weapon Of Choice? His Trusty Camera

It’s a weapon that Parks was very comfortable using. And he used it often. Whether during a protest on police brutality or a documentary capturing the idyllic moments of African Americans’ lives in rural Alabama, Parks always used his photographs as a tool to tell different narratives that would fight against racial segregation and violence he saw — and experienced — around him.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: Faith Ringgold

Ringgold explored many mediums throughout her long career, like painting and printmaking. However, Ringgold would mostly be known for her textile works. Following a long legacy of fabric artists in her matriarchal line, Ringgold learned about the legacy of quilts and their importance in African-American history.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: Augusta Savage

Born in 1892, Augusta Savage has always wanted to be an artist since she was young when she would carve animals out of clay in her backyard. Though women were encouraged to be performing artists (think singers and dancers) the thought of a woman being a visual artist was basically unheard of. It got to the point where her father would try to beat the art out of her. But it didn’t work. Her teacher spotted her talent and so began Savage’s career as a sculptor.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: James Van Der Zee

Born in 1886 in Lenox, Massachusetts, James Van Der Zee did not seek to be a photographer. With an early gift in music, Van Der Zee was an aspiring violinist. At the age of 14, he was gifted a camera, and the trajectory of his career shifted. As one of the few people in his city with a camera, Van Der Zee became a sought-after young man, documenting the rich lives of Black Americans in his town. 

Art, Politics & SocietyBlack Photographers Of Late 19th Century

As photography became more popular and less expensive over the last century, people from all walks of life began to pick up cameras to record their surroundings. Because of a history of racism and ignorance from larger, mainly white archival institutions such as museums and libraries, these records carry more weight than ever for many Black photographers who got to spend years or decades detailing the day-to-day lives of their communities.

Art, Politics & SocietyThe artists that helped sow the seed of contemporary African American art during the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a great movement filled with the cross-pollination of ideas between different groups of African Americans. The name is derived from the large concentration of African Americans in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City. In the years between World War I and The Great Depression, many African Americans migrated from the south to the more liberated north. Here, where they congregated in large numbers, a revival of African American culture began.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: Harvey C. Jackson

Harvey C. Jackson was another trailblazer that started the legacy of Black photographers in the United States. Though he was born in Cleveland, Jackson later moved to Detroit and possibly became the first African-American to set up a photo studio in the city. Jackson is most well-known for his documentation of the African-American community in Detroit. He was an active member of many groups, giving him an insight that outsiders could never have.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: Felicia Abban

As the first professional female photographer in Ghana, Felicia Abban immortalizes the female gaze in the mid to late 20th century.

Artist SpotlightArtist Spotlight: The Goodridge Brothers

As one of the first families of Black photographers, the Goodridge Brothers gave more dignified and nuanced portraits of the Black Americans of the time.

Artist SpotlightEdmonia Lewis: Woman of Steel

Edmonia Lewis was the first sculptor of African American and Native American descent to achieve international recognition. Edmonia's Neoclassical works exploring religious and classical themes won contemporary praise and received renewed interest in the late 20th century.

Art, Politics & SocietyArtist Spotlight: Prince Demah

Prince Demah was an American painter of African ancestry who was formerly enslaved and active in Boston in the late 1700s. Demah is "the only known enslaved artist working in colonial America whose paintings have survived." In 1773 William Duguid sat for Prince Demah, a painter of African descent, who was then owned by a merchant named Henry Barnes.

Art, Politics & SocietyThe presence of Black people in the 17th and 18th century art world

History is written through the eyes of those in power. This is especially true when considering the history of Africans in the context of the Western art world. When we think of artists from the 17th-18th century, or even people depicted in their artworks, we often conjure up images of white, affluent aristocrats. Even when a commoner was depicted, they would often be white, albeit in less extravagant clothes.

NewsAt 85, artist Shirley Woodson has no plans to put down her paintbrush

Decades ago, Woodson was told to stick to watercolors. Now she has her own solo exhibit at the same place she discovered her artistic talents as a young girl.

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NFTNFTs herald a new frontier for African contemporary art

Currently, African and Black contributions to art sales are just 1% of the total global collective. Can the new NFT trend change that?

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NewsLondon's National Gallery is reexamining its past and its ties to slavery

While London’s National Gallery is still struggling with its repatriation efforts for its collection of looted artifacts, it is not completely silent on reexamining its controversial past. This week, the National Gallery released the results of several years of research looking into the legacies of British Slave-ownership of the museum’s donors, collectors, and other figures associated with the museum.

NewsTwo British institutions returned their looted Benin Bronzes while the British Museum continues to refuse to do the same

In a historic move, Cambridge University and the University of Aberdeen become the first British institutions to return their Benin Bronzes. This move adds pressure for the British Museum to follow suit.

NFTCzech royal family uses NFT to secure 700-years-old collection

By creating these NFTs, the House of Lobkowicz hope to preserve and enhance their vast collection.

NewsNigerian artists want to exchange new artworks for the British Museum's Benin Bronzes

For the return of the Benin Bronzes currently housed at the British Museum in London, a group of Nigerian artists is offering new artworks in its place.

NewsPhiladelphia Museum of Art will return an ornate shield once looted by the Nazis to the Czech Republic

After eight decades the shield will finally return home, to the place where it has been decorating the Konopiště Castle for many years,” said Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic. 

Art, Politics & SocietyThe Scurlock Studio: How a team of father and sons empowered a community through photography

From studio portraits to street documentation, Addison Scurlock's photography tells the story of early 20th century Black Americans.

NewsSmithsonian acquires essential, rare early photography collection by and featuring Black Americans

The collection features almost 300 objects which feature photography of abolitionists, women entrepreneurs of the Underground Railroad, and photographic jewelry.

Art, Politics & SocietyImage Is Power: How Kwame Brathwaite Changed The Narrative With Photography

Meet the man behind the images that drove the Black Is Beautiful movement at its inception.

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