• Christalle Bodiford

Black (Art) History Month

While I'm a strong believer that Black History Month should not be condensed into one month each year, I do feel that it's important to honor Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and providing resources for you to educate yourself and others. I strongly encourage you to continue researching and learning about Black artists, because they are sadly not a focus in art education - a true tragedy! (in my experience)

Black History Month artwork by student Lara Garay circa 2018.

I am currently in the middle of an out-of-state relocation, so I will be sharing resources from other educators in this blog post, due to a chaotic schedule and not being able to create my own graphics/lesson plans at the moment. So please, enjoy these art education tools from fellow art teachers and I hope you'll give the questions critical thought and attention.

If you want the (extremely) short version of Black art history visit Black Art In America for 'A Very Abbreviated Version of Black Art History or 13 Important Black Visual Artists Everyone Should Know.

Please note, some of these artists will be modern and others from past decades - all artists and artwork styles are equally important to the evolution of art and art movements.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

I'm going to begin with Jean-Michel Basquiat because I feel he is probably one of, if not the, most well known Black artists in America.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s. He is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol.

Neo-expressionism is a style of late modernist or early-postmodern painting and sculpture that emerged in the late 1970s. Neo-expressionists were sometimes called Transavantgarde, Junge Wilde, or Neue Wilden. It is characterized by intense subjectivity and rough handling of materials.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was of Haitian-American (father) and Puerto Rican (mother) descent.

Art Project: Basquiat-Inspired Self-Portraits

For more info check out MyBlackHistory.net


Educational Slide: MyArtLesson.com

Video: PBS via YouTube

Bio: Biography.com

Neo-expressionism: Wikipedia

Art Project: Art Room Britt

Mary Lee Bendolph

This next artist is an Alabama native, like me, and her artistic talents have been passed down from her mother's love of quilting. Interestingly, I saw an article shared about her quilting group this morning in my virtual art teacher group, and they are now selling their beautiful, handmade quilts on Etsy via their nine individual shops!

Gee's Bend: From Quilt to Print

(approximately 15 minutes)

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

(approximately 27 minutes)

The Quiltmaker's of Gee's Bend

(approximately 56 minutes)

Art Project: Gee's Bend Quilt Collage

For more information visit Smithsonian Magazine.


Educational Slide: MyArtLesson.com

Videos: SoulsGrownDeep.org

Etsy Launch: Smithsonian Magazine

Art Project: Art Projects For Kids

Augusta Savage

“I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be in their work.”—T. R. Poston, ​“Augusta Savage,” Metropolitan Magazine, Jan. 1935, n.p.

In 1923 Savage became the focus of a racial scandal involving the French government and the American arts community. She was among some 100 young American women selected to attend a summer program at Fontainebleau, outside Paris, but her application was subsequently refused by the French on the basis of her race. The American sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil was the only member of the committee to denounce the decision, and he invited Savage to study with him in an attempt to make amends.

Much of her work is in clay or plaster, as she could not often afford bronze. One of her most famous busts is titled Gamin which is on permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; a life-sized version is in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the time of its creation, Gamin, which is modeled after a Harlem youth, was voted most popular in an exhibition of over 200 works by black artists. Her style can be described