Challenges facing African American Visual Artists

Challenges facing African American Visual Artists

Student’s Name


Challenges facing African American Visual Artists

Many African American visual artists meet a lot of problems in their work which hinders their working up to date. David C. Driskell who was an American artist but had an African origin is an excellent example of what artists with African origin faces in America. David C. Driskell drew pictures as well as painted walls, and during this time, he suffered a lot of challenges which according to him, shuttered his work. However, the spirit he had on artist did not sink, and as a result, David C. Driskell became a hero whose work remains in displays, and other exhibitions are set aside in his commemoration (Bey, 2011). This paper will consider more on the challenges which African American visual artists such as David C. Driskell and other professional minority artists faced throughout history and up to the present date (Landsmark, 1998).

One of the significant challenges which African American artists faced and continue to face up to present day is racism. David C. Driskell, for example, suffered a lot of racism in Chicago where he was brought up. In most instances of his career, he struggled to ensure that racism which he encountered from white American artists did not affect his work of drawing pictures and painting walls. Many of the American art was shifting towards artists such as Jackson Pollock and Pop arts who viewed skills at their job as superior and the work by David C. Driskell as inferior. David C. Driskell, however, took this challenge as a catalyst to propel the scope and quality of his work. (Driskell, 1995). David C. Driskell had a belief that heroes are not born with power but instead, are made by achievements of the human spirit which is not determined by whether a person is black or white as none of the races is superior as compared to the other (Calo, 1999).

In one of the interviews which Curlee Holton was asked concerning the challenges which African American artists face, he said that the primary problem in art industry was questioning which African American visual artists and other professional minority artists faced was on identity by birthright. Many people in people in the world especially the white people lack the sense of identifying the black people where they regard their heritage as inferior and theirs as superior (Davis, 2003). Curlee Holton said that African American artists were denied the right of expressing what they can draw or paint by the American artists hence shut down their freedom of expression. In the recent exhibition held in the commemoration of the art by David C. Driskell, Curlee Holton said that a black artist being given a chance to express what he can do without external influence is one of the most significant achievements which African American artists will have ever achieved (Douglas & Ater, 2007).

Additionally, another greatest challenge African American artists as well as other professional minority artists faced and continued to face up to date is that few American people were and are willing to buy their arts. Bennie Andrews who is one of the best-known artists in America said that only a few people had purchased his paintings even in his hometown of Atlanta (Driskell et al. 2001). He once said that being an artist is not easy but being an African artist is even more desperate. The work of African American artists seems to be even getting much tougher which is a report by several people who are involved in selling and also in exhibiting works made by black people. Mary Schmidt who works in s national museum in America said that it is hard for a black artist to be known because many people have no interest in their work (Kirschke, 2007).

As discussed above, it is clear that many American African artists and other professional minority artists face a lot of challenges which hinders their work to a great extent. Racism which is one of the problems they face makes the career of some artists to sink hence talents and works goes unnoticed. American African artists should be given equal opportunities to express what they can do as well as providing necessary support to develop their art without any form of discrimination.


Bey, S. (2011). Aaron Douglas and Hale Woodruff: African American art education, gallery work, and expanded pedagogy. Studies in Art Education, 52(2), 112-126.

Calo, M. A. (1999). African American art and critical discourse between World Wars. American Quarterly, 51(3), 580-621.

Davis, J. (2003). The end of the American century: current scholarship on the Art of the United States. The Art Bulletin, 85(3), 544-580.

Douglas, A., & Ater, R. (2007). Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist. Yale University Press.

Driskell, D. C., Cosby, B., & Hanks, R. (2001). The other side of color: African American art in the collection of Camille O. and William H. Cosby, Jr. Pomegranate.

Driskell, D. C. (Ed.). (1995). African American visual aesthetics: A postmodernist view (p. 1). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Kirschke, A. H. (2007). Art in crisis: WEB Du Bois and the struggle for African American identity and memory. Indiana Univ Pr.

Landsmark, T. C. (1998). Comments on African American contributions to American material life. Winterthur Portfolio, 33(4), 261-282.