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ARTE NOIR EDITORIAL

BLACK ART SHAPING COMMUNITY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

By Guest Writer Isha Hassan

 

Black art shapes community for younger generations by connecting them to relatable common ground.

 

To further explore this concept, I started my research into Black artists with Kansan-born painter, Aaron Douglas. His murals in New York led me to the Black Panther movement and the Harlem Renaissance. In 1934, Aaron Douglas created an epic four-panel mural series, Aspects of Negro Life, for the New York Public Library's 135th Street branch, now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 


A painting including silhouettes of Black people performing music under trees and light

Aspects of Negro Life, (1934). Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library.

 

What I sense from Douglas’ work is a desire for community building through art from the 1920s and '30s, which I see in Black artists of today. When we look at the 1934 mural, Aspect of Negro Life by Mr. Douglas, we find musicians, dancers, and community leaders.

 

Douglas’ influence on future art can be seen in the world’s outcry following the death of George Floyd. In 2022, Time Magazine reported, “two years since Floyd...about 2,700 pieces of street art around the world have been created in response to his death, according to the George Floyd and Anti-Racist Street Art Database.” Many murals like these were made to cement Black histories. Murals past and present, whether made in grief or joy, are educational for younger Black generations. 

 

"Black art is an expression and we are the emotion."


I believe Black art expresses a diversity of cultures; from clothing designs, and ceramic structures to Black music, movies, and much more. Young Black people need to see themselves in art. When I was around ten years old, I found YouTube art tutorials featuring different coily hairstyles. Young black girls were present in the thumbnails. Seeing these girls made me feel like they are just like me and that kinkier hair is manageable. It makes me happy to see Black kids with kinky hair connecting with Black characters in the comment sections. I, as well, like to point out similarities in Black characters.

 

Social media, for better or worse, serves as a stand-in for the younger generation’s Harlem Renaissance. Today’s artists, like Aaron Douglas, are making work for our community to feel seen online. Thousands of Black artists express self-discovery, cultural awareness, and political activism. Because of this work, it's now easier for Black kids to see themselves in the media. Artists today are celebrating different skin types like vitiligo, textured hair, and very dark skin. With this change, I started to add depth to my art for others to learn and connect with.

 

The impact Black art has on history also shows me how art has supported my ability to express myself as a person of color. I believe that it can help others in the same way. Black art is an expression and we are the emotion.




 


ABOUT ISHA


Isha Hassan is a 9th-grade student, Concept Artist, and Illustrator from Burien, Washington. Isha reached out to ARTE NOIR and after making an immediate connection, which she describes as “clicking with the community,” she landed an internship. Isha is currently working on an animated series called, The End Zone, and she desires to make many animations of her characters to then develop into a movie and grow her skill as a film director.

 

Thank you Isha for sharing your thoughts on youth connections to Black art, and for supporting our work at ARTE NOIR.

 

 

 

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