Nearly 160 years since the end of slavery in the United States, the notion of exploring Black identity and how it intertwines with the ideas of emancipation remains as relevant as ever. To commemorate Juneteenth, we highlight four artists whose works not only explore the Black experience but also reflect upon themes of liberation, unity and change. From a New York creative’s exploration of the Great Migration to a Miami multimedia artist’s fantastical collages reclaiming Black femininity, these works encourage contemplation and introspection.
Celebrate Juneteenth 2023 With The Work Of These 4 Black Artists
Ransome Explores The Great Migration
Painter and collage artist Ransome crafts colorful collages reflecting his heritage, which can be traced back to sharecroppers of the American South who migrated to Northern cities along the East Coast. Based in New York, Ransome is influenced by contemporary culture, jazz and R&B music and Abstract Expressionism—all of which can be seen in his work exploring how the experience of the Great Migration intertwines with his own personal narrative. His abstract pieces, like Altar, To The Folks Who Migrated, not only speak to the struggle and pain of Black figures who were systemically overlooked, but also celebrates the joy and soul of the Black community itself.
Vickie Pierre Reclaims Black Femininity
Miami-based multimedia artist Vickie Pierre creates collages and three-dimensional assemblages exploring gender and cultural identity with references to design and nature, while also musing on the topics of slavery and commodity. Inspired by the childhood memories of her life in Brooklyn and her Haitian heritage, as well as surrealism, global cultural mythologies, and the decorative arts, her predominately black collages are fantastical in nature and punctuated with a dash of whimsy. Her pieces, like You’ll Be The Moon and I’ll be The Earth (Gaia), not only serve as a reclamation of Black femininity, but also offer a fierce representation of regal feminine characters from mythical and historical pasts.
Ryan Runcie Addresses Social And Racial Reconciliation
Austin studio artist, muralist and painter Ryan Runcie’s works are both a playful expression of color and a safe space to explore societal biases and structures on a public scale. A first-generation American of Jamaican heritage, Runcie often uses his murals to depict and commemorate moments in Black history. His Rise of Masontown mural, for example, honors one of 13 local freedman communities and the leaders who built churches and schools in the area. Meanwhile, Runcie’s vivid acrylic portraits, like Bright Lights, express his hope for social and racial reconciliation, as well as encourage vulnerability in an effort to better understand each other.
George McCalman Homages Black Pioneers
George McCalman is a multihyphenate creative—fine artist, graphic designer, and co-principal of the studio McCalman.Co—whose work centers on storytelling and social commentary with aesthetic precision. What started as an art challenge turned vivid tapestry, McCalman’s recently released first book, Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen, shines a light on the untold stories and unseen faces behind historical moments in the African diaspora. Imaginative and captivating, this artistic homage to American history honors 145 Black pioneers and shares how their significant achievements affect our lives today.