Obelisk Art History
Themes in Art

Artists of the African Diaspora

Artists of the African Diaspora, Themes in ArtFiery Sunset

Through history, art has been a powerful tool for challenging entrenched racial biases, exposing injustice, and opening windows into the lives of oppressed and silenced people and communities. But the arts, like every other social system in America, is institutionally biased against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Below is a list of organizations and non-profits who work tirelessly to create opportunities for BIPOC and Queer artists in the U.S. Please consider supporting them through donations or sharing.


Finally, take some time to get to know a few of the Black artists that have told their stories through paint, print and sculpture. I recommend the 60-painting Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence, that tells the story of the more than a million Black Americans who fled the rural south after the start of WWI, and horrific violence they faced in leaving, on the journey, and on their arrival in the north.

Black Artists + Designers GuildDonate

A global platform representing independent Black artists, makers and designers, dedicated to creating dialogue and rewriting the misrepresented legacy of Black artists and designers.

Arts Leaders of Color Emergency FundDonate

Support BIPOC artists and administrators, including consultants, facilitators, box office staff, seasonal and temporary employees, etc. who have been financially impacted due to COVID-19.

African American Arts & Culture ComplexDonate

Empowering the San Francisco Bay Area through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression, mediums, education, and programming.

Black Artist Fund, by 10011Donate

A fund to raise money for distribution to Black artists and Black art collectives in the U.S.

Black Trans Femmes in the ArtsDonate

BTFA Collective is connecting the community of black trans women and non-binary femmes in the arts.

Harlem Arts AllianceDonate

A network of established and emerging visual and performing artists, businesses, and institutions that partners with major arts institutions in New York to increase its members’ visibility.

Black Art FuturesDonate

Philanthropists promoting the elevation and preservation of Black arts & culture, through grant making, board-matching, and organization-to-donor cultivation, to amplify and strengthen the future of Black art.


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Reed Enger, "Artists of the African Diaspora," in Obelisk Art History, Published February 10, 2020; last modified January 08, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/subjects/artists-of-the-african-diaspora/.

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Aaron Douglas, The Artists

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Projections of determination

1899-1979
Alma Thomas, The Artists

Alma Thomas

Tackling abstraction at 75

1891-1978
Archibald Motley, The Artists

Archibald Motley

1891-1981
Augusta Savage, The Artists

Augusta Savage

Sculptor, teacher and warrior for civil rights

1892-1962
Barkley L. Hendricks, The Artists

Barkley L. Hendricks

1945-2017
Benny Andrews, The Artists

Benny Andrews

1930-2006
Bertina Lopes, The Artists

Bertina Lopes

1924-2012
Bill Traylor, The Artists

Bill Traylor

It's never too late to tell your story

1854-1949
Charles Alston, The Artists

Charles Alston

"The idea of a march was growing"

1907-1977
Charles White, The Artists

Charles White

Images of dignity

1918-1979
Elizabeth Catlett, The Artists

Elizabeth Catlett

1915-2012
Gordon Parks, The Artists

Gordon Parks

Modern Day Polymath

1912-2006
Gwendolyn Knight, The Artists

Gwendolyn Knight

“No one can tell us who we are”

1913-2005
Harriet Powers, The Artists

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A freed slave tells stories in quilts

1837-1910
Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Artists

Henry Ossawa Tanner

A quiet man transcends racism to bring art back to religion

1859-1937
Horace Pippin, The Artists

Horace Pippin

1888-1946
Jack Whitten, The Artists

Jack Whitten

1939-2018
Jacob Lawrence, The Artists

Jacob Lawrence

1917-2000
James Van Der Zee, The Artists

James Van Der Zee

Don't just document, celebrate

1886-1983
Loïs Mailou Jones, The Artists

Loïs Mailou Jones

The joy of African color and design

1905-1998
Mary Edmonia Lewis, The Artists

Mary Edmonia Lewis

African-American Chippewa woman takes over sculpture

1844-1907
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, The Artists

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Delicate Sculptor of Horrors

1877-1968
Norman Lewis, The Artists

Norman Lewis

Making your own way to contribute to culture

1909-1979
Palmer Hayden, The Artists

Palmer Hayden

1890-1973
Robert S. Duncanson, The Artists

Robert S. Duncanson

1821-1872
Romare Bearden, The Artists

Romare Bearden

1911-1988
Thornton Dial, The Artists

Thornton Dial

1928-2016
Uzo Egonu, The Artists

Uzo Egonu

1931-1996
William H. Johnson, The Artists

William H. Johnson

Painting my people

1901-1970
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