Where's the Melanin at? The Underrepresentation Of Black Artists.

Where's the Melanin at? The Underrepresentation Of Black Artists.

I personally didn't realise art could be a career path for me, even with a lifelong interest and why would I? Schools primarily highlighted white male artists. There were no artists being showcase that looked remotely similar to myself or that represented my cultural background. This lack of representation of black artists and women artists - especially black women artists, is a symptom of a larger issue.

Here are some stark facts and figures:

  • Only 38% of artworks acquired by UK national museums and galleries between 2008 and 2018 were by women.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, only 2% of artworks acquired by Tate were by Black women artists.
  • 78% of galleries in London represent more male artists than female artists.
  • In 2020, just 7% of solo exhibitions at major UK institutions featured Black artists - we can presume black women account for less than half of that figure.

Unfortunately for black people, this has meant that a lot of their art has been pushed to the side since systemic racism has limited the exposure and appreciation of Black art. Art institutions - historically dominated by white men, haven't always actively championed Black artists. Therefore, the lack of institutional support and representation in leadership, translates to fewer exhibition and funding opportunities - preventing black artists from growth and gaining exposure.  The lack of exposure given to black artists has an effect on those who have a passion for it. It makes it seem as though it isn’t attainable or it isn't a space that black people can be in. Because of this, an invisible barrier whispers, 'This isn't your space,' before you even get a chance to pick up a brush. 

Well, It's time to break down this invisible barrier! Let's champion diversity in art and actively seek out the work of Black artists especially black female artists.  There's a whole world of creativity waiting to be explored and by supporting these artists we not only empower them to continue creating but we enrich our own artistic understanding.


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