9 Black Female Artists, These Women Redefine Art

Today we’re going to look at some of the world’s most talented black female artists!

When you think of the word “artist,” your mind is probably instantly drawn to music.

If I told you to think of visual art, who are some people you might name?

Chances are names like Pablo Picasso come to mind.

The list might continue with Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Rembrandt – and the list goes on and on.

Something’s wrong with this list, isn’t there?

With the exception of Salvador Dali, these are all white men.

Can you name any black artists?

To be frank, you might only be able to name Jean-Michel Basquiat, and he’s still a man.

Can you name any women?

For this, you might be able to name Frida Kahlo.

What am I trying to show you?

I’m trying to demonstrate that black female artists are underrepresented in the creative world.

Can you name a black female artist of the past or present?

There are quite a few of them and their work is powerful.

There are painters and photographers.

You’ll find those who make sculptures and quilted art.

There are black female artists who even write and animate.

The fact of that matter is that black female artists exist, and we need to start paying attention to them.

Check out our list of 9 black female artists who redefine art.

Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler is a black female artist from New Jersey who uses fabric as her medium.
Image courtesy of the Bisa Butler official Facebook page

New Jersey, represent!

Bisa Butler is a black female artist, from South Orange, New Jersey.

After completing high school, she would go on to be a Howard Bison and went further to pursue a master’s degree after her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts.

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With her art background, she doesn’t do the normal drawing and painting art that you’re probably used to.

Different from most black artists out there, her medium comes in the form of quilted portraits.

Bisa herself says that “I have always been drawn to portraits…I often start my pieces with a black and white photo and allow myself to tell the story.”

With fabric as her medium, she describes her stories as being told through the fabrics, textures, and colors she chooses, combines, and creates.

While she currently works as a teacher, her art continues to speak for itself.

With pieces that have been on display at the Epcot Center and the Smithsonian Museum of American History, this artist even has a show coming up at the Katonah Museum of art in 2020 from March to June.

Black female artist, Bisa Butler, has displayed her quilted art at the Smithsonian.
Image courtesy of the Bisa Butler official Facebook page

Lorna Simpson – A Black Female Artist

Lorna Simpson is a black female artist who specializes in black and white photography.
Image courtesy of the Lorna Simpson official website

Many artists tend to choose one medium, and there are few who can master numerous ones.

Lorna Simpson is one of the few.

While she is more well-known for her black-and-white pictures, the artist also dabbles in paintings, sculptures, drawings, and more.

Hailing from New York City, she first took her talents to the School of Visual Arts, New York City for her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts before heading across the country to San Diego for her master’s.

It was at this time in the ‘80s where she rose to prominence.

It was the vision behind her photography that also led to many awards within her career – the first of which being a 1985 art fellowship in Washington, DC.

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Her art has been featured in numerous museums across the world including The Whitney Museum of American Art and the highly favored Museum of Modern Art located in NYC.

Never staying too far from home, Lorna currently lives in Brooklyn and continues to add more awards to her resume, her most recent being the J. Paul Getty Award which she won in 2019.

In 2019, Lorna Simpson won the J. Paul Getty Award for photography.
Image courtesy of the Lorna Simpson official website

Lorraine O’Grady

Lorraine O'Grady is a black female artist who focused on the conceptual work of black female subjectivity.
Image courtesy of the Lorraine O’Grady official website

The Northeast black artists are clearly holding it down on this list.

Lorraine O’Grady is a black female who hails from Boston.

At the “fine as wine” age of 85, she’s had quite the illustrious career.

Growing up in Massachusetts led to her receiving her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College with a degree in economics and a minor in Spanish literature.

In her youth, Lorraine started with conceptual art.

She would choreograph performances and have appearances where she would create a demonstration against segregation in the art niche.

Eventually, she would move on to photo and video installations of her work.

When you think of the word “feminist,” you can think of Lorraine O’Grady.

Her work focused on black female subjectivity and she was never afraid to make a statement – no matter how uncomfortable others might’ve been with it.

Forever ingrained in art history, you can find her work in museums across the country from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Museum of Modern Art.

Lorraine O'Grady's work has always served the purpose of making a statement.
Image courtesy of the Lorraine O’Grady official website


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