Art is an expression of life that transcends both time and space. Art gives us a glimpse of the past and presents opportunities to shape the future. The impact of art inspired by black creatives has been revolutionary to history. Their talents cultivated a new perspective and reformed the implicit bias of our generation. These five creatives have left their legacy and paved the way for other black artists to explore their artistic endeavors.
Gordon Parks was one of the most exceptional photographers of the twentieth century. His photos told the complex story of poverty, race relations, and civil rights. Parks’ body of work ignited a strong sense of empathy, provoked outrage, and implored activism. He was also a distinguished composer, author, and filmmaker who interacted with many of the leading people of his era.
Kerby Jean-Raymond is a Haitian American fashion designer and founder of the streetwear label Pyer Moss, a brand concerned with building a narrative that speaks about heritage and activism. Kerby highlights the black experience and issues like police brutality through his thought-provoking shows and designs.
Thebe Magugu is a South African designer known for his powerful and politicized women’s wear collections. Magugu’s clothing prioritizes cut and color, infusing them with elements of his culture’s history. In 2019, he won the LVMH Prize for emerging talent, becoming the first African designer to be awarded the prize. The LVMH Prize-winner’s collection took inspiration from the female spies of South Africa’s apartheid.
Michelle Obama, First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th President. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. She is a role model for women and an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and higher education. Her book Becoming has won a spoken-word Grammy.
Hattie McDaniel was a trailblazer in the film industry. By the mid-1920s, Hattie McDaniel became one of the first African American women to perform on the radio. She experienced racism and segregation throughout her career. However, her perseveration led her to become the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.—By Thy X. Phan
Born and raised in Wichita, KS, Mary Nguyen is a student, artist, and entrepreneur. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. Mary is the founder of Out of Line Apparel, which features her artwork on clothing, prints, and stickers. Intrigued by art and neurology, she is pursuing a degree in medical illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Click here to see more of Mary’s artwork.