We, like many others, have been thinking about our position and the role we can play in contributing to diversity and equality. By not taking into account the colour of an artist or makers skin, and putting art, craft and design first, it didn't occur to us that we were not being anti-racist. However, after listening, reading and being open to conversations we can see that this isn't enough. We know that we need to do more to amplify the work and voices of Black craftspeople, makers and artists.
A study in March 2019 conducted by a group of mathematicians, statisticians and art historians at Williams College surveyed the collections of 18 major US museums, to find out the gender, ethnicities and race of the artists represented in the collections. The study found that 85.4% of the work belonged to white artists, and 87.4% were men. African American artists represented a mere 1.2% of the work; Asian artists 9%; and Hispanic and Latino artists a total of 2.8%.
This is also represented in our social media feeds, the magazines we read and our favourite websites.
But we hope that our small, but growing voice can make a difference. We vow to actively research, promote and collaborate with more Black artists. We'll start today by sharing five of our favourite Black craftspeople, artists and makers that are creating right now.
Kenesha Sneed is an illustrator, designer and ceramicist working from Los Angeles. In an interview with Apiece Apart Kenesha spoke about how from an early age it was instilled in her that she was going to have to work twice as hard as the person next to her to carve her path through life. This heavy weight that she and other women of colour hold on their shoulders inspired her illustrations and Kenesha always tries to convey women who bear a resemblance to herself in her art. Kenesha's clients include Google, Facebook, Warby Parker, Apple and Marella. The beautiful image of Kenesha above shows her in one of the pieces that she collaborated with Marella on.
You can purchase Kenesha's work on her website.
Dennis Osadebe is a Nigerian artist, based in Lagos, Nigeria. His vibrant pop-art style works are full of bold colours, shapes and silhouettes that playfully explore the more serious topic of challenging and reimagining African art; through positive, provocative, and progressive imagery. Dennis blurs the line between digital and psychical - digitally creating scenes which are embellished and brought to our attention, in considered areas, using acrylic paint.
Some of Dennis' work can be bought on Artsy.net.
Harvey Bouterse started his career in the fashion industry at the age of 18 and went on to work as a Senior Designer at Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as having his own fashion label HrVi. Harvey collected Perignem objects made in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and one day set out to visit the offices to get a piece signed. Instead, what he found was an almost completely unused ceramics factory, full of clay and glazes used to create those collective Perignem pieces. The dream. He's been working there ever since. Inspired by primitive forms, Brutalist architecture and his South-American roots; Harvey creates one-off pieces, that he develops directly with the clay, never sketching out an idea first. His pieces are then decorated using contemporary glazes, combined with the glazes leftover in the factory, which are no longer made today.
A few of Harvey's pieces are available on Artsy.net
Sanford Biggers was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives and works in New York City. As an interdisiplinary artists he works with many materials, but we're particularly drawn to his work with antique quilts, which he repurposes, paints and draws on to narrate the rumoured history of the use of quilts as signposts to guide escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad.
Sanford's pieces can be purchased on Artsy.net.
Zizipo Poswa is a ceramicist based in Cape Town. Her large-scale sculptures are inspired by her journey of growing up as a Xhosa girl, fetching water from the river in a rural Eastern Cape town in South Africa, balancing a bucket on her head. Her incredible, totemic sculptures are an ode to the load carried by Xhosa women. In 2006 she and her friend Andile Dyalvane, opened Imiso Ceramics, a ceramics gallery in the trendy Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town’s Woodstock district.
Some of Zizipo's work can be purchased on 1st dibs.