New York is a haven for artists and all people who enjoy the arts. Music, visual arts,
performing arts; the city contains it all within itself. There is so much to see even by stepping
out on the street and facing the graffiti or hearing a musician on the subway play a unique
instrument. All of it can be observed just by watching and paying attention to the city moving
around us at each moment.
Within each area of the arts, there are people making a difference by doing what they
love. And it is by doing what they love when it has the most impact because their work
shows their true self and their passion. But sometimes, these changes affect society and its
members on a larger scale; by breaking barriers that are a social, racial, or humanitarian
hindrance. In this blog, we will be introducing five African American artists that have made
a difference with what they do.
The first artist on the list is Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller. Fuller, who was a prominent
figure during the Harlem Renaissance, was known as a poet, painter, and sculptor. She
exhibited the reality of social injustice and racism within her work which was not accepted at
the time. With time, people began to realize how valuable her work was especially as it was
created when social justice and racial harmony could not be attained, even within the arts.
The next artist is Jacob Lawrence, a painter from Atlantic City, NJ. Lawrence also
showcased the African American experience and the way it contrasted with white people’s
lives. His work included a portrayal of everyday life, as well as historical events and tragedies
such as paintings of WWII. He moved to Harlem with his mother and sister and began
teaching painting in the New School for Social Research, the Art Students League, and Pratt
Institute. His paintings have been displayed at Whitney Museum, and the Seattle Art
Another notable sculptor is Augusta Savage (1892-1962). Augusta Savage was a very
influential sculptor in Harlem and had her own sculpting school named the Savage Studio of
Arts and Crafts. Naturally, she began influencing others with her work and impact within the
Harlem Renaissance. Savage’s sculptures were life-sized, and she often photographed herself
sitting beside them.
The next artist is a contemporary artist affiliated with NYFA. Kenseth Armstead is a
multimedia installation artist who has presented his work at the Whitney Museum of
American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and Guggenheim Museum. Armstead’s installations
include works that play with shadow and light, as well as reflection on the surface which is
mostly the ground and pavement. His work focuses heavily on shape and perspective and
blends beautifully into architectural New York.
Finally, Ayana Evans is an artist you need to know. Ayana Evans describes herself as
a performance artist. She utilizes concepts and ideas that give meaning to her own
expressions as a Black woman. She recently had an article in The New York Times where she
elaborated on the experience of growing up as a black woman, focusing on the hardships and
injustices that can hinder a person due to systemic racism and inequality. A notable quality
of her work is the bold use of vibrant color and patterns.