Celebrate Black Visual Artists
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 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.
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.
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!
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.