Contemporary African American Artists
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Contemporary African American Artists
The following collection contains artwork from a variety of African American artists currently producing in the contemporary art field. The artists are both unique and diverse yet connected through their cultural background. The artwork selected represents a mixture of technique, media, and subject matter.
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Hank Willis Thomas | BRANDING USA

Hank Willis Thomas | BRANDING USA | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
A conversation with Hank Willis Thomas and Sarah Lookofsky.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Contemporary photographer Hank Willis Thomas is most notable for his advertising photographs that restructure multiple images without text to put forth notions of commercialism, slavery, and concepts of black identity in modern society.  Born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1976, Thomas is the son of one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography Deborah Willis, and business tycoon Hank Thomas.  His early exposure to photography led him to appreciate the medium.  He currently holds a BFA from New York University and an MFA from California College of the Arts, has exhibited across the world and is now a part of permanent collections in the National Portrait Gallery, the High, the Smithsonian, and the Whitney, to name a few.  He holds the first Aperture West Book Prize as well as the New Media Fellowship from Tribecca Films.  His work traverses the interconnectedness between advertising, race, popular imagery, class, and the male body in visual culture.  Thomas utilizes historic images juxtaposed with contemporary icons to suggest multiple and confused identities and the sociopolitical implications they hold.  His wish is that viewers interpret his work and concoct their own assumptions based on his use of symbolism.

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Ana C. Robles's comment, September 15, 2013 11:08 PM
Very cool collection of pictures Ash.
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BOMB Magazine: Mickalene Thomas by Sean Landers

BOMB Magazine: Mickalene Thomas by Sean Landers | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Bold, decorative, and dazzling come to mind when addressing the artwork of contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas.  Born in Camden New Jersey to a single mother, Thomas has a unique way of exploring perceptions of femininity, African American identity, and power with her fashionable and patterned collages.  Aside from being the initial artist to create a portrait of first lady Michele Obama, her artwork is featured in permanent collections around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney.  This multimedia artist creates large-scale paintings decorated with rhinestones and enamel in order to elaborate on ideals of beauty, pop culture, celebrity status, and sexuality.  Her studies at Pratt Institute and Yale allowed her to have a versed understanding of art history, classical portraiture and landscape, which all feature prominently in her work. Thomas also assembles images dealing with Western contemporary ideals, the artist-model relationship, and interior and exterior spaces as they pertain to the female figure.  

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MY COUNTRY HAS NO NAME :: IRAAA

MY COUNTRY HAS NO NAME :: IRAAA | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

The melding of technique, form, medium, and subject have never before come together so eloquently as in the work of New York City resident Toyin Odutola.  Her petite pen and ink portraits and figures reveal an intimacy between artist and subject that seems to erupt from the paper it's created on.  Born in Ife, Nigeria in 1985 and eventually immigrating to Huntsville, Alabama, Odutola found herself enveloped by issues of identity to her country of origin and to her new nation.  Her work is an attempt to exploit these notions of grappling with multiple identities, especially those of an African American woman in a predominantly white male community. After receiving her BFA from the University of Alabama and her MFA at Yale, Odutola went on to publish her own book that encapsulated her work as an artist and her experiences as an immigrant with blurred identities. Currently, her illustrations treat the skin's surface as a landscape, culminating in a journey to address issues of how 'blackness' is scrutinized within religious, economic, and political contexts.         

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Nina Chanel Abney's Twisted Rituals

Nina Chanel Abney's Twisted Rituals | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Nina Chanel Abney paints vibrant multicultural murals with disjointed narratives that confuse and delight.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Upon first glance at Nina Chanel Abney's colossal paintings, the message may seem unclear if not downright confusing.  That is exactly the goal of the artist; to encourage dialogue between the painting and viewer so that a more personal experience can be accomplished.  Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1982, this young, up-and-coming African American artist has exhibited her exotic acrylics across the globe.  She received her BFA from Augusta College and her MFA from Parsons School of Design.  She resides in New York City where she concentrates on developing works that converge on topics of race, politics, and even celebrity culture.  While her work is very rarely planned, the peculiar scenarios, costumes, and symbols seem as though they had a predetermined fate with her subjects of masculine and feminine identity within the African American culture.  Abney's cartoon-like figures that seem to emanate from the Cubist movement draw your attention through extreme facial expression and dream-like circumstances.         

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Art Review - Barkley L. Hendricks - Slick and Styling - Provocative Poses at the Studio Museum in Harlem - NYTimes.com

Art Review - Barkley L. Hendricks - Slick and Styling - Provocative Poses at the Studio Museum in Harlem - NYTimes.com | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
A five-decade retrospective of Barkley L. Hendricks’s suave portraits from the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s, at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Known for his life-sized paintings of African Americans from the urban areas he grew up in, Barkley Hendricks is one of the leaders in the                         black conceptualism movement and currently exhibits across the globe.  As a Philadelphia native since 1945, Barkley's work has attracted the attention of all races for its intimate views of the subject matter.  His methods of empowering his subjects with dignity and pride yet also allowing them to be confrontational have gained him substantial notoriety.  Working mainly in oil but straying once or twice in other media, Hendricks' mix of realism, modernism, and pop culture adds flair and dimension to his seemingly poised and confident subjects.  He holds both a BFA and an MFA from Yale University and is currently a professor of art at Connecticut College.           

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Natural-Socialite-Logo-005psweb1.jpg (600x639 pixels)

Natural-Socialite-Logo-005psweb1.jpg (600x639 pixels) | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

The Harlem scene is experiencing it's most dramatic and multi-talented artist of it's time.  Matthew Thomas, born in Memphis, Tennessee, is a graphic artist, producer, writer, director, and painter who thrills in involving himself in a plethora of media.  He received his BFA and MFA from the Maryland Institute of Art and his work has taken him the length of the globe, from New York to Tokyo to Italy.  He has written and director 3 feature length films, published a racey book over lost loves, and been apart of a the Harlem Arts Walking Tour inititiave.  Thomas's work battles ideas of race, sex, drugs and politics while at the same time confronting notions of social class, body image and death.  His larger-than-life works question what it means to be an African American artist in the context of art history.  One aspect of his paintings and productions are the ease of interpretation by crowds of diverse backgrounds.  Whether, white, black, French, or low-income status, the art of Matthew Thomas is read by all.

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How Kehinde Wiley Makes A Masterpiece

How Kehinde Wiley Makes A Masterpiece | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
At 36, he is already one of the art world's brightest lights, painter of portraits that borrow heavily from the old to make something blazingly new.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Born to a Nigerian father and African American mother in the suburbs of San Francisco, California in 1977; Kehinde Wiley is one of six children, a twin no less.  His accomplishments began early with his travels to Russia to study language and art.  He would eventually graduate with a BFA and later on an MFA from Yale.  He currently resides in New York City with a studio in Bejing, China where his tailor assembles a variety of glamorous suits that exploit the fabrics of his journeys.  His passion for traveling has taken across the globe where he finds many of his subjects most of them from the tangle streets of places we could only dream of going.  Wiley is nothing short of a genius with brush and oil.  His work, some spanning all of ten feet, is a mixture of old masters from the seventeenth century and new age, black culture; a fusion of hip hop entertainment with underlying cues of race, power, wealth, and white supremacy.  Wiley's use of bright colors, gilded frames and meticulous patterns, with staid-faced figures coursing through the fibers of the canvas articulate the notion that he is a new-age master.

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Stephen Wiltshire MBE

Stephen Wiltshire MBE | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Stephen Wiltshire is an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. He has a particular talent for drawing lifelike, accurate representations of cities, sometimes after having only observed them briefly.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Stephen Wiltshire, the child prodigy often labeled 'the human camera' and ABC's Person of the Week for February 2008, was born in London, England in 1974 and was diagnosed with autism when he was three.  Not able to speak completely until nine, Wiltshire immersed himself in the art of drawing animals, people, and anything he could get his pen on.  He was recognized as a local legend by the press at age seven and sold his first work at age eight.  Recognizing his talent for capturing the actuality of the moment in cityscapes, Wiltshire enrolled in the City and Guilds of London Art School. One graduated, Wiltshire traveled the world, drawing near exact renditions of famous locations including Tokyo, AUstralia, France, and Russia.  His creations focused on not only the authenticity of the landscape, but the personalities, language, chaos and order of the buildings, streets, and people.  His largest panorama, a sky view of Tokyo, spanned 250 ft and took two months to complete.  Wiltshire was labeled an Honorary Life Fellowship membership from the Society of Architectural Illustrators and was nominated by the Queen as a member of the Order of the British Empire.

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Ebony G. Patterson: All the right moves | Caribbean Beat Magazine

Ebony G. Patterson: All the right moves | Caribbean Beat Magazine | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1981 to a family willing to nurture her creative spirit, Ebony Patterson has been creating elaborate and confrontational work since her teens.  As a young, African American woman growing up in the suburbs of West Kingston where crime, violence, gangs, and drugs ran amuck, Patterson found herself relying on her artistic ability to cope with such disturbances.  Her early body of work focused primarily on what it meant to be black and female in a historical and contemporary context, especially within Jamaican culture.  The subjects that were most provocative included the female sex-organ and other female body parts, signifying the female as an object.  Patterson's current work is piqued by an interest in the opposite direction: masculinity and dancehall culture in Jamaica.  Her multi-media work fuses painting, drawing, photography and even installation into notions of skin bleaching as a transformative process, homoeroticism, beauty and gender ideals as well as popular black culture.  Patterson is currently an assistant professor of Painting at the University of Kentucky and continues to exhibit around the world.

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Alexandria Smith | Artvoices Magazine

Alexandria Smith | Artvoices Magazine | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Alexandria Amith is an artist who challenges the assumptions of childhood innocence, identity, and vulnerability.  Her acrylic painting style of bright hues and dramatic shapes harks back to the days of the Harlem Renaissance and her subject matter is just as provacative.  The Brooklyn-based artist was born in the Bronx and attended Syracuse University for her BFA and Parsons School of Design for her MFA.  She currently resides in New York City where she is an active artist, creating contorted perspectives and over-exaggerated features that are reminiscent of old school cartoons.  While the identity of Smith's figures are obscurred, the interaction of sexual undertones , insecurities and peril are obvious and cause the viewer to question what they are experimencing.

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Jamea Richmond-Edwards Artwork

Jamea Richmond-Edwards Artwork | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Jamea Richmond-Edwards Artwork
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Born in to the slums of Detroit, Michigan in 1982, Jamea Richmond-Edwards led a troubled childhood of family drugs, violence, and fear that surfaces in her intricately layered, mixed media portraits.  Her unique depictions of mainly young, black, women subjects eludes to the complexity and assumptions about women's lives.  The underlying pretense in her work is human frailty, especially in women, and to show the possibilities of her subjects as well as their strengths.  Richmond Edwards received her BFA from Jackson State University and her MFA from Howard University.  She has also collaborated with other artists to create the 'Delusions of Grandeur' collective as well as being a part of African American art advocacy groups such as ABEA and BADC.    Richmond-Edwards' passion for overcoming childhood obstacles through art has led her to teaching at Archbishop Carroll High in Washing, D.C. where she is also the department chair.

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Gary Campbell's curator insight, April 10, 2015 9:35 AM

The method in which Jamea creates her images is so beautiful. Her characters project subtle emotions that is amazing. 

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introducing…THE HOUSE OF BANDO - Salon 94

introducing…THE HOUSE OF BANDO - Salon 94 | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Salon 94 is pleased to present the gallery’s first exhibition of iona ROZEAL brown. A simultaneous solo show by the artist will be on view at Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art located at 37 West 57th Street.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

As a contemporary female, African American artist, Iona Rozeal Brown creates energetic pieces overflowing with a complex mixture of Japanese ganguro culture, African American ethnicity, and byzantine pattern.  Her notions of race, sex, class, and intimacy play a dramatic role in her large multi-media works which have been displayed in over 25 exhibits across the country.  Brown was born in Washington, DC in 1966 and currently resides in New York City, close to the urban scene where many of her subjects originate.  Her love for Japanese customs grew from her experiences as a child and have been reflected in her art ever since.  She received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and her MFA from Yale.  As a painter and a DJ, Brown builds up a concoction of color and texture with hip-hop and break dance flair which has attracted the attention of collectors nationwide.         

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Awol Erizku,Awol ErizkuArt,Awol ErizkuGallery - New York City

Awol Erizku,Awol ErizkuArt,Awol ErizkuGallery - New York City | Contemporary African American Artists | Scoop.it
Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, Contemporary Photography Gallery in New York, specializes in contemporary photography by emerging and established artists.
Ashley Sterling Mayabb's insight:

Through the subways and mingling streets of New York City is where Awol Erizku finds his models; ladies and gentlemen for his precisely posed, lit, and colored photographs depicting the average Joe juxtaposed in Renaissance era masterpieces.  Erizku, a 24-year old Nigeria native, grew up in the suburbs of the Bronx.  He attended the Cooper Union School of art and is currently working on his MFA at Yale where he is focusing on sculpture.  This young, African American artist has struck the art scene with his digital photographs that confront the lack of racial diversity in the contemporary art world.  Erizku's goal is to portray his very normal, subjects of color in an honest yet elite state of being.  The passion behind his work lies in his fuel to ignite the art world with a new, fresh African American face.    

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Ana C. Robles's comment, September 15, 2013 11:06 PM
Very cool photography.