Born in Ethiopia but raised in the South Bronx, Awol Erizku creates art that accurately represents members of his community. The Yale alum channels the works of Renaissance masters but includes primarily black models, many of whom he recruits on the streets of New York City.
Born in Ethiopia but raised in the South Bronx, Awol Erizku creates art that accurately represents members of his community. The Yale alum channels the works of Renaissance masters but includes primarily black models, many of whom he recruits on the streets of New York City. You may not have heard of him before, but you’ve more than likely seen his work. The 28-year-old photographer made history with the portrait he took for Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement in 2017. He continues to make a mark on the world through a series of exhibitions that challenge the dominant white aesthetic.
Obi Arisukwu is an up-and-coming artist who transmutes his love of Saturday morning cartoons into stunning artworks. His hilarious and relatable comic strips have gained attention from high-profile celebrities, including Will Smith. Obi decided to leave the world of corporate America in 2017 because he wanted to chase his dream of becoming an artist. So far, it’s been working out for him—and thanks to all the new-found success, Obi is releasing his own comic book, which you can pre-order now.
Nina Chanel Abney
Infusing a fun-loving style with grim subject matter, Abney describes her work as, “easy to swallow, hard to digest.” Driven by the world’s fascination with celebrity news, she addresses racial conflict within pop culture by painting scenes that pull from her own experiences as well as current events. She fuses traditional storytelling with cartoon figures and playful compositions in order to echo the digital age’s constant stream of stimulation. Viewers are invited to explore ideas of pop culture taboos through attention-grabbing images that are equally humorous as they are absurd. Her art doesn’t shy away from loaded topics, generates important discussions, and allows viewers to come to their own conclusion.
Mack’s work moves easily between sculpture, painting, and installation—all while using common objects, such as textiles, clothing, printed images, and ready-mades. He mediates everything on paint and dye surfaces, which he believes creates a feeling of familiarity for his viewers. Though Mack laces his paintings with personal belongings, such as his own clothing, there’s also something mysterious about them. It’s as if he wants to tell us something but can’t find the words. All of his work stems from his euphoric process of observation and collection of diverse objects found in everyday life.
Marcus Williams has taken over Instagram with his bold and exciting art. He’s the illustrator, creator, and artist behind very cool and unique black superhero comic projects, such as Tuskegee Heirs and Super Natural. His characters stand out due to their bold colors and powerful action poses. While he typically creates his own original content, Marcus is also known to provide his own spin on well-known Marvel characters, including Black Panther, Storm, and Wonder Woman.
Thanks to the sharing culture that social media has cultivated, emerging black artists can easily go viral overnight. Show these and other new black artists some love and support—share their work with your online followers!