Decolonize Your Art Practice

Image Credit: @creativehunt

This post was originally published on the THRIVE Artist Network in June 2020. You can learn more about THRIVE here.

Inequality exists in the art world and it is important that our community of artists support each other to become the thriving artists we are all truly meant to be. We need to reimagine and do the work to create something beyond the current system.

The sad fact is that in the US, the overwhelming majority of artists making a living from their art are white. Art critic, curator, and racial justice advocate Maurice Berger (who recently died of complications related to COVID-19) wrote this article for Art in America: Are Art Museums Racist?  This compelling article discusses the conspicuous silence among many major art museums and galleries.

Here are a couple of useful articles about race, social justice, and our role as Artists: Do Artists and Designers Have an Obligation To Be Political? and How to Decolonize Your Artwork.

Resources for White People that Support Understanding and Reframing

The day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Jane Elliot created "the blue eye brown eye experiment" to help her class of white students understand what it feels like to be discriminated against. Here is a documentary about her and a recent interview. She is amazing!

Leesa Renee Hall specializes in helping highly sensitive people in unpacking their biases and privilege. This blog post is an excellent place to start and it includes several expressive writing prompts. Leesa also offers her work through Patreon. 

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood. She has created a monthly learning platform The Great Unlearn.This Instagram post by anti-capitalist business coach Bear Hebert breaks down anti-racism work into 3 parts: learning, acting, and healing. 

ANTI-RACISM resources is an extensive and growing online directory that includes lists of thought leaders, books, podcasts, artists, parenting resources and more. Be sure to check out this article: Take an inventory and examine how you move through the world as a white woman  by Tatiana Mac.

Here is a wonderful list of additional resources for allies.

Organizations That Support Emerging Black Artists, Thinkers, and Change-Makers

Activation Residency
Afrotectopia
Arts Administrators of Color Network
Art Hoe Collective
Black Artists Network In Dialogue
Black Girl Magik
Black Lunch Table
Black Trans Femmes in the Arts
Black Visions Collective
Black Women’s Blueprint
Black Youth Project
Bklyn Boihood
Brown Art Ink
By Us For Us
East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts
(Fem)power
Harlem Arts Alliance
Life Pieces to Masterpieces

The Sphinx Organization
Spicy Zine
Tessera Arts Collective
Women’s Center For Creative Work
Black Art in America
Arts Black
Black Art Futures
Women of Color in the Arts
Black Artists and Designers Guild

Support Black Business Owners

Black-owned Bookstores
WeBuyBlack
The Black Wallet
Official Black Wall Street
Here is a great list of 125 Black-owned business

Add Diversity to Your Instagram Feed

Lina Iris Viktor
Joy Labinjo
Charlotte Edey
Linnet Rubaya
Betye Saar
Kara Walker

Lillian Blades
Dana King

Amy Sherald
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Nina Chanel Abney
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Toyin Ojih Odutola
Tschabalala Self
Jennie C. Jones
Jade Purple Brown
Ronnie Nicole Robinson
Lisa Hunt
Morgan Harper Nichols

Andrea Pippins
Thelma Golden
Black Women in Visual Art

Black Art in America
Black Girls Who Paint
She Loves Black Art
People of Craftsmanship

Check out this inspiring list of 60 Black-owned Instagram accounts to follow.

Further Learning Opportunities and Ways to Take Action

Racial Equity Tools is a website that offers resources for individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. The site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities, and the culture at large.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has a wonderful website dedicated to helping people talk about race.

Check out NPR’s list of books, films, and podcasts about racism
And this list from the New York Times

Take a stand against police brutality
Find out whose land you are living on
Learn about conflict minerals in our computers and phones
Learn about cultural appropriation


Image Credit: @diasporababes


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