The Black Image

"Mine is a quiet exploration--a quest for new meanings in color, texture, and design. Even though I sometimes portray scenes of poor and struggling people, it is a great joy to paint."

--Lois Mailou Jones, African-American artist

"We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves."

--Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," Nation (June 1926)

In this final gallery, artistic representations of African-Americans, occupying varied positions on the abstract/represenational continuum, illuminate the great achievements of African-American art, particularly during the past twenty-five years, as well as its promising future. These works present empowered African-American subjects, yet stand on their own as aesthetically valuable works of art. These expressions of "the black image" apply not only to the African-American experience, but to American art and life as a whole.

Indeed, whether they choose to express themselves in the abstract, or in realist forms, and whether or not they choose to deal explicitly with political and racial issues, contemporary African-American artists are free to express themselves, as in these particular works, "without fear or shame." They can revel in their art, and in the many choices of methods through which to express themselves. Furthermore, thanks to the work of their predecessors to defy discrimination, African-American artists now are not only accepted by the "mainstream" artistic and critical community, but appreciated as influences on the avant-garde of American art.


Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring, 1988)

First Sunday
From a Painting by Jonathan Green


Vol. 11, No. 4 (Autumn, 1988)

Gwendolyn Knight, 1987
Oil on canvas
43" x 31"


Vol. 14, No. 2 (Spring, 1991)

The Meeting of the Comedians
Josť Maria Capricone, 1978
Oil on canvas
100 x 100 cm


Vol. 15, No. 4 (Fall, 1992)

Vilma Maldonado-Reyes, 1990
Acrylic, paper on linen
40" x 50"


Vol. 17, No. 2 (Spring, 1994)

Self in Storm
Gilda Snowden
Mixed Media Painting


Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter, 1996)

Virgie Patton-Ezelle


Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring, 1996)

The Artist in Her Studio
Diedra Harris Kelley


Vol. 20, No. 1 (Winter, 1997)

Girl Talk
Laurence Hurst, 1997
Acrylic on paper, 10" x 13"

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