29 Emerging Black Artists to Discover This Black History Month, Part 2 | Artsy (2024)

Feb 15, 2024 2:00PM

To recognize Black History Month, Artsy is spotlighting 29 emerging Black artists—one for each day of this important month. This list hopes to highlight the work of emerging Black American artists who are at pivotal stages of their careers.

These are exceptional creators from around the country who are working with different materials, from Chiffon Thomas, known for mixed-media sculptures to Demetrius Wilson, who creates exuberant abstractions, to Sydney Vernon, painter of intimate, figurative depictions, and Myles Loftin, the rising photographer making powerful portraits.

Here, we share the second installment of Artsy’s emerging artist series for Black History Month. (In case you missed it, find part one here.)

Alexandria Tarver

B. 1989, Houston. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Alexandria Tarver. Courtesy of the artist.

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Alexandria Tarver began to make paintings of flowers around the time when her father was diagnosed with cancer. She found that the process of “buying flowers, making drawings, and making a painting became one of the only things I could do that made me feel in control,” she explained to Refinery 29 in 2016. “So I did it over and over again.”

Alexandria TarverNew painting - nights, 4, 2021NINO MIER GALLERYPrice on request
Alexandria TarverNights 46, 2023Eighth House Benefit AuctionBidding closed

Now, after her father’s death, Tarver continues to use foliage to explore themes of nature and mourning. For example, her painting Nights 46 (2023) depicts two blooms set against a Prussian blue backdrop. Tarver’s use of negative space calls our attention to the plants, and urges us to contemplate the beauty and power of botanical life. Another work, New painting - nights, 4 (2021), is a similarly captivating rendering of plants. Clusters of alabaster buds and wilting leaves stand in sharp contrast to a flat black background. These flowers are thorough examinations of natural objects, and their composition is similar to that of a scientific illustration.

Tarver is currently represented by Deli Gallery, where she had a solo show of new paintings earlier this year.

Alisa Sikelianos-Carter

B. 1983, New York. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Alisa Sikelianos-Carter. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta.

Alisa Sikelianos-CarterIn the Shape of My Memory #2, 2021Fridman GalleryPrice on request

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With a diverse array of media, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter reimagines traditional folklore and Black history by creating dynamic, glitter-encrusted images.

In the Shape of My Memory #2 (2021) is a multilayered abstraction showing black, purple, green, and yellow marks set atop a cream-colored surface that looks like the inside of a mother or pearl shell; the image is evocative of the sea and the animals that dwell there. This was intentional on the artist’s part, and many of their works have references to coral reefs and fictitious oceanic creatures, like mermaids. I Am Made of Sky and Mud (2022) also nods to mythology and the surreal, showing a pair of legs affixed to a meteorite that’s covered in craters. Tiny specks of glitter adorn the work and reflect small points of light, adding a delicate touch.

A current MFA candidate at Rutgers University, Sikelianos-Carter has taken part in numerous prestigious artist residencies and fellowship programs, including NXTHVN, Fountainhead, Yaddo, and Headlands Center for the Arts, among others. She had a solo exhibition at San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in 2023, and at Chicago gallery Kavi Gupta in 2022. In 2025, she will participate in a group show at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art called “I’m a thousand different people—Every one is real,” which will highlight the work of queer artists.

Chiffon Thomas

B. 1991, Chicago. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Portrait of Chiffon Thomas in the studio. Photo by Karl Puchlik. Courtesy of Michael Kohn Gallery.

Chiffon Thomas’s multimedia sculptures pose questions about Black bodies and the spaces that they inhabit. To do so, the artist references corporeal forms—like limbs and torsos—and splices them with architectural details, such as staircases and window grates. Untitled (2023), for example, is a multimedia sculpture wrought from plaster, silicone, resin, fiberglass, and embroidery floss on steel. The piece shows two sets of hands clasped together, while delicate threads dangle from their fingertips. Another work, Untitled (2020), portrays a fragmented face with rebar wire for hair; there’s a Holy Bible growing from the side of the face, and its lips are slightly downturned in a frown.

Chiffon ThomasUntitled, 2023Michael Kohn GalleryPrice on request
Chiffon ThomasUntitled, 2020Michael Kohn GallerySold

Thomas’s oeuvre exhibits ways that Black bodies have historically been manipulated and disfigured. In an interview with Troy Montes-Michie, Thomas said that Elizabeth Alexander’s seminal text The Black Interior (2004) inspired such compositional choices. The artist cited a specific excerpt where Alexander writes: “The black body has been misrepresented, absented, distorted, rendered invisible, exaggerated, made monstrous in the Western visual imagination and in the art world.”

Thomas is represented by Michael Kohn Gallery. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition, “The Cavernous,” is currently on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum through March 17th.

Corrine Slade

B. 1998, Montclair, New Jersey. Lives and works in Chicago.

Portrait of Corinne Slade by Thanassis Gatos, 2022. Courtesy of Corinne Slade.

Corrine SladeNorth Star, 2023The BreederSold

Through her emphatic brushstrokes, Corrine Slade is able to conjure narratives about Black femininity and dreaming. Her work deftly combines both representation and abstraction: Certain areas of her canvases are vibrant and spirited, recalling Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock, but other sections of her paintings feel more controlled, like a delicately rendered Jan van Eyck. In a 2019 interview with LVL3, the artist said that she has diverse influences ranging from Romare Bearden to Helen Frankenthaler to Paul Cézanne.

North Star (2023) shows how Slade successfully combines her myriad influences. The work depicts two figures sitting side by side; one dips her feet into a pool of water, while the other subject gazes at the bather longingly. Slade’s emphatic, almost abstract brushstrokes make it feel like we’re looking at the scene through a hazy filter, which adds to the painting’s dreamlike feel. Another canvas, Chalice (2022), is a red-bathed tableau centered on an especially wide goblet. The artist’s careful focus on this object helps the viewer to imagine its history, while the abstract marks help us to ascribe our own feelings and associations to the piece.

Slade has participated in shows at New Image Art, DADA Gallery, The Breeder, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Demetrius Wilson

B. 1996, Boston. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Demetrius Wilson. Courtesy of T293 Gallery.

Demetrius WilsonHasty Dealings, 2022Luce GalleryPrice on request

Known for his emphatic, textured abstractions, Demetrius Wilson uses his paintings to contemplate moments of introspection.

Wilson’s painting Hasty Dealings (2022) shows an atmospheric array of green, blue, and yellow marks that seem to swirl around the center of the canvas. A Messy Staple Gone Tired (2023) also shows Wilson’s ability to innovate with materials—this work uses acrylic and spray paint on a table cloth. When you look at the piece, you can see the floral pattern of the tablecloth in certain areas of the surface, which gives the work a multidimensional quality that plays with line, color, and texture.

Wilson’s work will be featured in “In Tender Peace, Grace Unfolds,” a group show at Houston gallery Mitochondria curated by Moriah Alise. He is currently completing his MFA at Hunter College and will have his first solo show in New York at Harper’s this month.

LaRissa Rogers

B. 1996, Charlottesville, Virginia. Lives and works in Charlottesville.

Portrait of LaRissa Rogers by Christopher Wormald. Courtesy of LaRissa Rogers.

Larissa RogersKeloid 3, 2023 New Image ArtUS$5,000

LaRissa Rogers uses sculpture, performance, and video to address complicated questions about identity and colonization. For example, her sculpture Keloid 3 (2023) cannibalizes tchotchke figurines, covering them with porcelain and glaze to create an enigmatic narrative that loosely references bodies and the artist’s personal experiences. Untitled (Skin) (2022) uses different formal decisions to meditate on identity—this piece is wrought from granulated sugar and acrylic paint on canvas. It is adorned with a blue floral pattern and a white background that are reminiscent of porcelain dishware, and Rogers’s decision to reference these motifs are commentary on Western fascination with Asian ceramics—also emphasized through her use of moon jar and kintsugi styles.

Larissa RogersUntitled (Skin) , 2022Helen J GalleryPrice on request

Rogers was recently selected for Forbes magazine’s 2024 “30 Under 30” list, and she will be installing a public sculpture with the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston in 2024.

Michael Andrew Booker

B. 1985 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Lives and works near Hyattsville, Maryland.

Portrait of Michael A. Booker by Andy Feliciotti. Courtesy of Michael A. Booker.

Michael Andrew BookerJust in Case the Devilman Don't Know, 2017Morton Fine ArtUS$4,250

Michael Andrew Booker creates beautiful drawings on paper; his work appears ephemeral because he applies his marks so delicately to surfaces. He uses fineliner pens in pastel colors—like pale yellows, baby blues, and rose pinks—that whisper vibrant stories.

For example, his work Whirlpool. O (2023) shows a canary yellow cloth that’s draped across a red patterned window. Even looking at a photograph of the work, you can see that the way he shades and applies texture to the canvas is unique; he places multiple lines next to one another to create a pattern of straight and curved marks. Just in Case the Devilman Don’t Know (2017) is another example of Booker’s distinctive linework. The lemon yellow, cardinal red, and forest green portrait is a kaleidoscope of colors that create a dynamic portrait when they’re combined with one another.

Booker has exhibited work at Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center and the Arlington Arts Center.

Muzae Sesay

B. 1989, Long Beach, California. Lives and works in Oakland, California.

Portrait of Muzae Sesay. Courtesy of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Muzae Sesay”When We Were Here Last II”, 2023pt.2Price on request

Muzae Sesay’s enigmatic abstractions combine shapes and colors to suggest surreal narratives. When you look at these paintings, it feels like you’re entering a dreamscape of colors and lines where reason gives way to a brightly saturated, emotional headtrip.

“I love conveying human interactions without using the figure,” Sesay told Juxtapoz magazine. “And looking at the space that humans create tells a lot about the people who occupy those spaces.”

When We Were Here Last II (2023) features a vibrant outlay of geometric figures—concentric squares, tilted triangles, and semicircles work together to create a tantalizing tessellation. If you look closely at the composition, some of the cylindrical shapes and convex lines seem to resemble objects like water glasses and vases, which makes for a pleasant combination of abstraction and representation. Similarly, Endless (2023) shows an orange cylindrical form that’s giving birth to a multicolored rainbow of pink and red and brown. In the background, a white circle hovers atop a black background, making the painting look like a snapshot of a surreal nighttime scene.

Last year, Sesay had a solo exhibition at Philip Martin Gallery, and this year, his work was featured in “Arcadia and Elsewhere,” a group show at James Cohan Gallery.

Myles Loftin

B. 1998, Acco*keek, Maryland. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Myles Loftin by Denzl Golatt. Courtesy of Myles Loftin.

Myles LoftinCOLORED, 2019SuperpositionPrice on request

Myles Loftin uses photography to create powerful portraits that present Black people in multifaceted ways. His dynamic portrayals weave visual narratives and serve as an aesthetic archive of our current times.

“It’s also extremely important for me as a Black queer artist to create a visual archive of the members of my community as a means to solidify our place in history,” Loftin toldVogue Photo in 2022.

Myles LoftinBrotherhood, 2019SuperpositionUS$650

COLORED (2019), for instance, depicts a person with pink, gray, and blue box braids. They’re shot from below, which allows the viewer to see the subject from a strange and unexpected angle. PPE (2020) is another uncanny picture by Loftin—it shows a person wearing a purple raincoat with the hood pulled up, along with white sunglasses and a clothespin holding their nose shut. The subject seems serene, and they stare straight ahead with a blank expression.

In 2020, Loftin was selected for Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” list. His editorial work has been featured in several publications including Paper, The Cut, Garage, i-D, and The Fader.

Rush Baker IV

B. 1987, Washington, D.C. Lives and works in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Portrait of Rush Baker IV by Quinci Baker. Courtesy of Rush Baker IV and Keijsers Koning.

Rush Baker IVTBT, 2024Keijsers KoningUS$9,000

Using acrylic, resin, and found photography, Rush Baker IV uses different materials to create images that reflect the chaotic and quick-changing nature of our current era. Baker draws from diverse source material, ranging from the novelist Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower to the abstract painter Sam Gilliam’s dynamic pieces, to create compelling commentary about the environment and current events.

TBT (2024) is a cheeky combination of acrylic paint, resin, paper, spray paint, and plaster on canvas. Blotches of yellow and white paint obscure hazy images of landscapes, prompting the viewer to conjure a half-forgotten memory of a long-gone landscape. Elsewhere, his painting Firestorm (2023) is a cacophony of color. Vibrant red, orange, and yellow marks swirl around one another in a vortex of passion, hinting at possible devastation that exists just beyond our reach.

Baker’s work was recently exhibited in Keisjers Koning’s booth at Artsy’s online art fair Foundations, along with another solo at the gallery, which also represents him.

Sheherazade Thenard

B. 1995, New York. Lives and works in Miami.

Portrait of Sheherazade Thenard by Art House San Clemente. Courtesy of Sheherazade Thenard.

Sheherazade ThenardHidden in the Hills (Fleurs du Mal) , 2023Art Lead HerPrice on request

Using painting and printmaking, Sheherazade Thenard examines her experiences as a Black, queer woman living in the American South. In doing so, Thenard raises provocative questions about family history, sexuality, and spirituality.

Hidden in the Hills (Fleurs du Mal) (2023), for instance, shows a woman trapped in her thoughts—the painting’s protagonist is sitting at a desk with her hand propped up to her head, and we can see the images in her mind floating above her. A pair of lovers lies in the grass, with yellow and purple plants swirling around them and the sun looming overhead. It’s a quiet moment, a moment of internal ecstasy that the painting’s subject can only return to inside their own head. Other works, like Between Land and Sea (2023) also unpack themes of interiority. The subject of this piece floats atop water and plants, much like the titular subject of John Everett Millais’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Ophelia (1851–52).

Thenard’s work was recently featured in Artsy’s Foundations fair with Filo Sofi Arts. She also showed work in “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” a group show in New York curated by Mashonda Tifrere.

Sydney Vernon

B. 1995, Prince George’s County, Maryland. Lives and works in Baltimore.

Portrait of Sydney Vernon by Daniel Diasgranados, 2022. Courtesy of Kapp Kapp.

Sydney VernonUntitled (Levortia and Wesley Vernon), 2020Kapp KappSold

Sydney Vernon employs drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage to tell tender stories about Black life. She often turns to figuration to do so, creating nuanced portrayals of her family, friends, and cultural figures.

One of Vernon’s works on paper, Untitled (Love Calls) (2022), shows an unclothed woman slipping into a pool of water. The subject feels assertive—she sports a large afro, and gazes at us from the corner of her eye. Such a direct depiction of an unabashed, nude Black woman recasts this Black femme as person with her own agency, rejecting historical exoticised aesthetics of the past. Another of Vernon’s drawings, Untitled Glance (Janet Jumbo) (2022), is a portrait on paper of the Nigerian model Janet Jumbo. Jumbo also looks directly at the viewer with sultry eyes and pursed lips, her braids as well as two different earrings falling around her face. These accessories give the subject a distinct personality that both seduces and challenges the viewer.

Sydney VernonUntitled (Love Calls), 2022Kapp KappPrice on request
Sydney VernonUntitled Glance (Janet Jumbo), 2022Kapp KappPrice on request

In 2022, she was a fellow at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Studio Immersion Project. Vernon had a self-titled solo show at Kapp Kapp in 2023, and is currently represented by the gallery.

Emily Manwaring

B. 1999, New York. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Emily Manwaring by Lola Paprocka and Pani Paul. Courtesy of Emily Manwaring.

Emily Manwaring4 U, 2021BEYOND THE STREETSSold

Working with acrylic and oil paints as well as found objects, Emily Manwaring crafts intricate narratives about urban Black communities that present escapist environments.

4 U (2021) is one such example of Manwaring’s ability to imagine new realities. The mixed media on paper piece shows two women riding a dirtbike on a sidewalk. One of the women wears a red shirt adorned with a New York Yankees emblem, while, in the background we can see a subway station that reads Utica Avenue, a clear nod to Manwaring’s upbringing in New York City. In Swish (2022), a complex composition, figures populate the entire painting, and bright blues and pinks accentuate certain areas of the canvas. Such formal choices were no mistake—the artist is deeply influenced by Kerry James Marshall and Faith Ringgold, and Manwaring’s knowledge of technique and art history comes across throughout her oeuvre.

This month, five of Manwaring’s paintings were featured in the music video for Usher’s single “Ruin.” Her work also appeared in The Nameplate by Marcel Rosa-Salas and Isabel Attyah Flower, a book on photography that examines the significance of nameplate jewelry.

Maya Beverly

B. 1998, Atlanta. Lives and works in New York.

Portrait of Maya Beverly at “Bounce” at Oolite Arts Foundation, 2023. Photo by World Red Eye. Courtesy of Maya Beverly.

Maya Beverly creates ceramics that contemplate different time frames—her oeuvre references everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary objects. This allows her to express how physical items can transcend the physical to transport viewers to the spiritual realm.

Take her piece Girl with Her Orb (2023) for example. The ceramic sculpture shows a girl, glazed in red, holding a golden sphere, and she seems to be looking down at her treasured object. The work references Scandinavian sculpture tradition, but also seems to reference deeply ancient depictions of female forms. Her piece Surrogate Series (01) (2021) is a bit more abstract—the sculpture resembles a curved figure with its arms held above their head in a circle, like a ballerina holding her hands in fifth position.

Maya BeverlyGirl with Her Orb, 2023SuperpositionPrice on request
Maya BeverlySurrogate Series (01), 2021Kouri + Corrao GalleryUS$650

Beverly’s work was recently featured in Superposition’s group exhibition “Bounce” at Oolite Arts Center in Miami. Last year, she also had a solo show at Chela Mitchell Gallery in Washington, D.C.

James Perkins

B. 1978, New York. Lives and works in New York and Fire Island.

Portrait of James Perkins. Courtesy of Hannah Traore Gallery.

James PerkinsDiamond In The Back, 2022C O U N T YPrice on request

Using biodegradable materials like silk and sand, James Perkins creates innovative land art sculptures that become paintings. The artist’s process is long and involved—Perkins often stretches silk over wooden frames, and buries them into the ground for extended periods of time.

Sometimes, it can take up to two years to create a single work, but the result is well worth the wait. For example, one of these works, Diamond In The Back (2022), is a triangular sculpture in pale pink and cream. Perkins innovatively uses material here, exposing the silk to elements such as sun, sand, salt, wind, wood, and water from various parts of the ocean to create a beautiful ombre of pastels and fuchsias. Similarly, his work Nasturtium (Fire Island, New York) (2018) uses a slightly different color palette of pale greens and yellows. This piece also has a corresponding airy feel, and Perkins’s distinctive technique is immediately apparent.

Perkins will be showing work with Hannah Traore at Frieze Los Angeles. He has also exhibited with several other galleries, including MANA Contemporary and C O U N T Y, as well as NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Browse available works by artists featured in this article in the collection “Emerging Black Artists to Discover.”

Isis Davis-Marks

Update: This article has been updated to include additional information about Demetrius Wilson and Corrine Slade’s exhibition history.

29 Emerging Black Artists to Discover This Black History Month, Part 2 | Artsy (2024)

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