It should be no surprise that the visual arts have a significant skew towards men, and white men in particularly. Shockingly, in the National Gallery’s collection of over 2,300 pieces only 21 are by women artists (National Gallery). Of these 21 women, none are black.
We know that there are black women artists and creatives – but Black women face a double hit of discrimination and erasure, on the basis of both gender and race. So what can we do to change this?
- Education: take time to educate yourself on black female creatives and their lives. Look for specific exhibitions, social media accounts and websites. We love the work of Laura Wheeler Waring, Gwendolyn Knight and Mickalene Thomas.
- Support: support the creatives you find. This could be something as little as liking or commenting on a post on their Instagram, or even better buying some of their work. There are also a myriad of fantastic organisations that have been set up to support Black Female Creatives, such as the Black Women Directory, Black Pound Day, RiotSoup and Black Women In the Arts. Check out their work and support them financially if you can.
- Voice: and importantly, use your voice to tell people about the creatives you’ve discovered. There is nothing more powerful than word of mouth. The more you spread the word, the more people hear about black women in the arts.
Racism and sexism are structural problems, and are broader than just the creative industries. But these small steps from all of us can help start to bridge the gap.
Learn more about organisations supporting Black women creatives:
Black Women Directory: Directory providing easy access to Black Women owned businesses and services.
Black Pound Day: An initiative to encourage people to support Black owned businesses. Every first Saturday of the Month is Black Pound Day.
RiotSoup – A collective of female artists of colour based in London who run exhibition and events to raise awareness.
Black Women in the Arts – An organisation the supports Black Women in all the arts from theatre to music to visual. This is the UK’s leading organisation that is dedicated to Black Women’s development in creative areas.