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VISUAL ARTISTS

We are proud to showcase some of the most profound, influential and acclaimed artists throughout the country, in our space. Curated by Derek Fleming and David Simkins, the work embodies the excellence in the African-American experience and compels a conversation in the critical challenges as well as the powerful triumphs that have sustained and propelled the culture forward.

Kara Walker

Kara Walker is among the most complex and prolific American artists of her generation. She has gained national and international recognition for her cut-paper silhouettes depicting historical narratives haunted by sexuality, violence, and subjugation. Walker has also used drawing, painting, text, shadow puppetry, film, and sculpture to expose the ongoing psychological injury caused by the tragic legacy of slavery. Her work leads viewers to a critical understanding of the past while also proposing an examination of contemporary racial and gender stereotypes.

Derrick Adams

Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary Baltimore born, Brooklyn, NY based artist working in performance, video, sound 2D and 3D realms. His practice focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, exploring self-image and forward projection.

Sanford Biggers

Sanford Biggers creates artwork that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance. He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols. Through a multi-disciplinary formal process and a syncretic creative approach, he makes works that are aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual.

Elizabeth Catlett

One of the most important American artists of the past century, Elizabeth Catlett is honored as a foremother by subsequent generations. In the United States and in Mexico, where she resided for over sixty years, she produced an unparalleled body of politically charged and aesthetically compelling graphic and sculptural images that were grounded in what she regarded as the historically based necessity to render visible that which had not been the subject of art. she dedicated herself to making art primarily for African American – and later Mexican – audiences, determined to give voice to the enduring dignity, strength, and achievements of black women and other oppressed peoples.

Pope L.

Pope L. is an American visual artist best known for his work in performance art, and interventionist public art. However, he has also produced art in painting, photography and theater. He was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of the Creative Capital Visual Arts Award.  https://www.popel.nyc/

Rashid Johnson

Born in Chicago in 1977, Rashid Johnson is among an influential cadre of contemporary American artists whose work employs a wide range of media to explore themes of art history, individual and shared cultural identities, personal narratives, literature, philosophy, materiality, and critical history. After studying in the photography department of the Art Institute of Chicago, Johnson’s practice quickly expanded to embrace a wide range of media – including sculpture, painting, drawing, filmmaking, and installation – yielding a complex multidisciplinary practice that incorporates diverse materials rich with symbolism and personal history.

Hank Willis Thomas

Living and working in Brooklyn, NY, Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspectives, identity, commodity, media and popular culture.

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas (lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) makes paintings, collages, photography, video, and installations that draw on art history and popular culture to create a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity, gender, and sense-of-self are informed by the ways women (and “feminine” spaces) are represented in art and popular culture

Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates lives and works in Chicago. Gates creates work that focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind. Known for his recirculation of art-world capital, Gates creates work that focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” Gates smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise – one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist. https://www.theastergates.com/about

Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili creates intricate, kaleidoscopic paintings and works on paper that deftly merge abstraction and figuration. Ofili rose to prominence in the 1990s for his complex and playful multi-layered paintings, which he bedecked with a signature blend of resin, glitter, collage, and, often, elephant dung. His works—vibrant, symbolic, and frequently mysterious—draw upon the lush landscapes and local traditions of the island of Trinidad, where he has lived since 2005. Employing a diverse range of aesthetic and cultural sources, including, among others, Zimbabwean cave paintings, blaxploitation films, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and modernist painting, Ofili’s work investigates the intersection of desire, identity, and representation.

Wadsworth Jarell

Wadsworth Jarell is a painter, sculptor, and AFRICOBRA co-founder. Born in Albany, Georgia, Jarrell was raised on a working farm. Inspired by the art in the Saturday Evening Post, he hoped to become an illustrator. Initially focused on design and illustration, he switched his attention to fine art after visiting various Chicago art museums. Back in Georgia, blacks had not been allowed inside museums. Seeing masterpieces for the first time in person inspired Jarrell. He enrolled full time at SAIC in 1954, and earned his BA in 1958. Wadsworth has developed many distinct bodies of work, including sculptures inspired by the African cultural traditions, and a series of paintings dedicated to jazz musicians. http://kavigupta.com/artist/wadsworth-jarrell-2/

Purvis Young

Purvis Young was an American artist from the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Self-taught, Young’s work was often a blend painting/drawing with collaged elements utilizing everyday discarded found objects. Inspired by documentaries, (art)books, American history and spiritual folklore his visual vocabulary was vast; wild horses, urban landscapes, (self) portraits, figures, holymen, angels, warriors, boats, sports, musicians, erotica, processions and incarceration to name but a few. https://purvisyoung.com/

Stephen Arboite

Stephen Arboite, of Haitian descent, was born and raised in New York City and now resides in Miami, Florida. Arboite’s work considers beauty outside of classical aesthetic paradigms, and places an emphasis on spiritual transformation and evolution of human consciousness. https:// www.stephenarboite.com/biography

Michael St. John

Michael St. John, began his career as an abstract painter in the 1980s before moving on to found-object installations in the decade that followed. He uses art as a way to comment on contemporary culture. His most recent works focus on the democratization of images by combining propaganda shots of smiling presidents with photos and the types of everyday imagery that we often overlook (bathroom graffiti, stickers on notebooks, lost dog signs). His canvases combine photocopies and found images with painted material in the trompe l’oeil style of 19th-century painter John Peto; his works simultaneously evoke Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, teenaged bulletin boards, and the artists’ studio itself. “Like watching the news,” St. John has said of his information-saturated works, “you are left to wonder what’s real and what’s not.”

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