The canon timeline of art history typically focuses on white artists, more so male white artists, but in recent times there has been a push to acknowledge the contribution of women artists and artists of color. In American Art, the contributions of Black artists are slowly yet surely being recognized. Most are from the 20th and 21st centuries, but African Americans have been a part of the American art world since the 1700s.
The Black Shadow Box is an education database that highlights Black artists, spanning from the 1700s to now. The artists featured on this database all have different artistic practices and puts into perspective how long African Americans have been a part of American art.
One of the main reasons I created this site stemmed from my own need to see artists that look like myself and the break away from the traditional art cannon or white men. For years I have been working on expanding a list of over 180s names of African American Artists. I discovered artists as far back as the 1700s and all of them work in a range of materials. From sculpture, to print, silhouettes, pottery, daguerreotypes, photography, painting, and craft, African American artists have created works that deserve to be highlighted in the American art canon.
Artists are organized into collections based on their general artistic practices. Each profile on this database includes a picture of the artist, their basic info, main artistic practice, a brief bio or artist statement, and a list of different museums and public collections that their work is currently featured in. In addition to that information, a photo of one or two of the artist’s work is included in the art profile.
Along with these collections two Exhibits, “Black Art has Always Existed” and Education Resources. The exhibition “Black Art has Always Existed” breaks down the history of Black art by time periods, giving a brief synopsis of Black art within that time and sources for more information about it. Works of various artists of each period are included as well to help give a visual aid of what type of work was being created. Alongside that is an interactive timeline to illustrate whenThe Education Resources exhibit features original PowerPoint, image lists, and art projects that I have created that focus on individual artists or the concept of African American art from the 1700s to now as a concept. All educational resources are available to be downloaded by anyone and can be modified for pre-k to the collegiate level.
This site is an educational database and a source to help other Black artists find inspiration from artists that look like them. The art history that is currently taught tends to include the same few African American artists from American history. This database is a starting point for those who would like to begin exploring the vastness that is African American Art. I plan to continue expanding this site by including currently practicing African American artists that I personally know and reaching out to galleries that might know some who would like to be added. I will also be adding more art lessons about individual artists as well. My main aim for this site is for it to be a place to highlight African American art and to be a space for young African American artists to find other artists that they can be inspired by. While there is a push for more diversity in museums, there is still a long way to go before African American artists throughout history gain the same recognition as their white counterparts. In the words of the famed artist Romare Bearden, “Black art has always existed. It just hasn’t been looked for in the right place.”