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Celebrating African American Artists: A Journey Through Creativity and Culture

As we embrace African American History Month, it’s a wonderful opportunity for families to explore and celebrate the incredible contributions of African American artists to the fabric of our cultural heritage. Art, in all its forms, has the power to tell stories, evoke emotions, and inspire minds. For parents and their children, discovering the world of African American art can be an enriching and eye-opening experience. Let’s embark on a journey through the creativity and resilience of African American artists, whose works have illuminated the beauty, struggle, and triumph of the African American experience.


Introducing Art to Children

Art is a language that speaks to all ages. For young children, it opens doors to visual learning and expression. Introducing your children to the works of African American artists not only broadens their artistic horizons but also deepens their understanding of America’s diverse history. Here are some celebrated African American artists and engaging ways to explore their art with your family.


  1. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, a brilliant painter known for his raw, powerful works that blend words, symbols, and figures, emerged from the New York City graffiti scene. His art, full of social commentary, provides a vibrant gateway for discussions with older children about identity, history, and the power of voice. Learn more at https://www.basquiat.com/

Family Activity: Create your own Basquiat-inspired artwork. Use crayons, markers, or paints to create bold, expressive pieces that combine words and images. This can be a fun way for children to express their thoughts and feelings about the world around them.


  1. Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is celebrated for her colorful quilts, which narrate stories of her life, her family, and the African American experience. Her famous story quilts, like “Tar Beach,” resonate with children, combining visual art with storytelling. Learn more at https://www.faithringgold.com/art/

Family Activity: Story quilting at home. With fabric scraps, glue, and markers, families can create their own simple quilts or quilt-inspired drawings. Encourage your children to depict a favorite family story or a dream they have for the future.


  1. Kara Walker

Kara Walker is renowned for her thought-provoking silhouettes that explore themes of race, gender, and identity in American history. While her themes are more suited for mature audiences, her silhouette art technique can inspire a fascinating family art project. Learn more at https://www.karawalkerstudio.com/

Family Activity: Silhouette storytelling. Trace each family member’s profile onto black paper and cut out the silhouettes. Glue these onto a contrasting background and add elements that tell a story about each person or depict a family tale.


  1. Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley, known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings that place African Americans in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings, offers a fresh perspective on representation and dignity. His work, including the famous portrait of President Barack Obama, is accessible and inspiring to all ages. Learn more at: https://kehindewiley.com/

Family Activity: Portrait day. Inspired by Wiley’s work, take turns painting or drawing each other, emphasizing noble poses and adding imaginative, colorful backgrounds. Discuss the importance of representation and seeing ourselves in art.


  1. Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage was a pioneering sculptor of the Harlem Renaissance who fought for equal rights for African Americans in the arts. Her sculptures celebrated African American culture and identity, making her a key figure in American art history. Learn more at https://americanart.si.edu/artist/augusta-savage-4269

Family Activity: Clay portraits. Using air-dry clay, families can sculpt simple figures or busts, focusing on expressing emotions and features. This tactile activity is great for all ages and honors Savage’s legacy of sculptural expression.


Celebrating Together

African American History Month is a time to reflect, learn, and celebrate the rich contributions of African Americans. By exploring the art of these and many other African American artists, families can engage in meaningful conversations about culture, history, and the power of creativity. These activities not only foster a deeper appreciation for art but also encourage children to express themselves and imagine a world of possibilities.


Let this month be a starting point for a year-long journey of exploration and discovery, where art becomes a bridge to understanding and celebrating the diverse stories that weave the tapestry of American history.

Owner at Language Kids World | + posts

Founder and Director of Education at Language Kids.
M. Ed.

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