Celebrate Black Visual Artists

A stock photo of a glass with paint brushes in it and soft colorful lighting

Kids love making art — and they can benefit from learning about other people’s beautiful art, too!

According to experts at the University of Arizona, “looking at art stimulates the brain and puts our innate knack for organizing patterns and making sense of shapes to use.” 

Discussing art also opens the door to telling stories and sharing ideas about the artists and the subjects of their work.




In celebration of Black History Month, here are six world-changing Black visual artists to inspire young children.

The painting "Spring--Delightful Flower Bed" By Alma Thomas includes Rings of brightly colored abstract rectangles

“Spring–Delightful Flower Bed” By Alma Thomas, 1967. National Museum of African American History and Culture

The bright abstract patterns in Alma Thomas’s paintings were inspired by nature. Older kids can learn about her life and legacy in this video from the National Gallery of Art.

The cover of the picture book Jake Makes a World, which shows a painting of a young Black boy with a colorful piece of art

Jacob Lawrence’s bold, colorful paintings tell stories of Black life and history. Lawrence was a professor at The University of Washington in the 1970s and 1980s, and many of his works are on display across the state. The picture book Jake Makes a World tells the story of his life.

The cover of the picture book Parker Looks Up, which shows a young Black girl looking at a portrait of Michelle Obama

Two famous paintings by Black artists are the National Portrait Gallery pictures of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Kehinde Wiley painted the president in front of a detailed background of vines and flowers. Amy Sherald painted the first lady in a flowing geometric dress. The children’s book Parker Looks Up tells the true story of a Black first grader who was inspired by this powerful portrait.

Of course, art isn’t just paintings!

The quilt "I Go to Prepare a Place for You" by Bisa Butler Depicts a multicolored image of Harriet Tubman

“I Go to Prepare a Place for You” by Bisa Butler, 2021, depicts Harriet Tubman. National Museum of African American History and Culture

Kids may be surprised that a comfy, cozy quilt can be an incredible work of art! Bisa Butler creates neon-colored portraits with cotton, silk and thread. Her quilt “The Princess” depicts a confident young Black girl.

And kids will find comfort in Elizabeth Catlett’s terra-cotta sculpture “Mother and Child,” which shows a Black mother tenderly cradling her baby. 

For more incredible work by Black artists, visit the National Gallery of Art’s Black Art & Artists page.