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The Voices of Black Artists

Every Monday I search for inspirational quotes to help set the tone for my week. As a creative, I naturally turn to the words of artistic savants. In celebration of Black History Month, I’m keenly focused on the voices of black artists. When you hear Picasso, Warhol, and Matisse, you instantly recognize their names. But what about Driskell, Gilliam, Green, Motley, Pippin (no not Scottie),Thomas, Walker ... I could go on.

In the 20th-century black artists had minimal visibility, even greats like Jacob Lawrence. In frequent acquisitions, few collectors, limited scholarships and token exhibitions was an underlining brushstroke in the career of a black artist. We're just now seeing museums embrace black artists in a more prominent and meaningful way then ever before. Black artists have power messages to share, not just to their communities, but to our society at large, like the below selection of some my favorite inspirational quotes.

  • “You can't sit around and wait for somebody to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it” Faith Ringgold, Painter and quilt artist

  • "If a man knows nothing but hard times, he will paint them, for he must be true to himself."Horace Pippin, Painter

  • "I’d always been afraid of art. I was afraid in college. But that fear is a goal, in a way: It makes you hesitate, and then you delay your start, and then you have a breakthrough.” Sam Gilliam, Painter

  • "Art says “stop looking at my face or the clothes that I wear and look at another important part of me.” It’s the part of me I can’t talk about so I dance it or paint it or compose music about it." Ernest Crichlow, Social realism artist

  • "I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be in their work."— Augusta Savage, Sculptor

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