We learn about historic periods by the art and artifacts left behind.
The tangible and visual can tell the story of a civilized people and their lives.
Art work found in a special place will indicate a certain status. King Tut had that tomb, discovered finally in 1922, intact because the looters had not removed and sold everything, although they had tried (then some other pharaoh built housing for the workers building his tomb over Tut's, so the boy king's loot was hard to uncover). But Tut, a lesser, younger, short-lived pharaoh has become the best known because of the booty found in his final resting place.
He can be studied. He can exemplify a period.
So, in what special place do we find art by African Americans, today? How will the future folks understand our integral importance to and contributions within our culture? They can learn about our separate culture resulting from enslavement, Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, poverty and mis-education, etc. in separate institutions.
We may not seem to have been that important to future observers. The museums and galleries not totally devoted to African American history and art will not show much. Go see for yourself.
Maybe you don't have time to get to a museum. Pick up some books on "American Art". You will be hard pressed to find artists of African heritage included.
No books? Check us out on line, then. Google "American Artists" or "famous Artists" and see what you discover if you play a favorite game of mine, " Find the black artist". Try it! You may be surprised.
I usually look for artists: Elizabeth Catlett, Henry O. Tanner, Joshua Johnston, Samella Lewis, Lois Mailou Jones, Richard Mayhew, Chakia Booker, Robert Colescott, Richard Hunt, William H. Johnson, William Carter, Philomena Williamson, Nannette Carter, Fred Wilson, Ed Clark, Sam Gilliam and some others. If you research "American artists", "American Art", etc. you may find Jacob Lawrence, Basquiat, Romare Bearden and Martin Puryear and a few others.
I own various books on American Art most dating from the 1960's to present, art textbooks, catalogs, books I find here and there at estate sales, etc. and notice we are usually not represented. At best, out of 100 famous American artists one or two might be African American.
SO, What do you think? What can we do to change this?
From the Crying Man series
by Joyce Owens