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Ten Famous Black Artists & Painters Every Kid Should Know

Below you’ll learn more about famous black artists and painters every kids should know. Their work can provide a window into the lives and experiences of African Americans, and help students gain a greater appreciation for what each artist has accomplished.

Ten Famous Black Artists Every Kid Should Know

Black art has the power to educate and inspire, and give us a deeper understanding of our world. It can share struggles, triumphs and gifts, and bring the black story in America to life.

When students try out an art project that was inspired by a black artist, they not only learn more about what this artist may have overcome in their life, but also try out some of the ideas they were famous for.

Below you will see a preview of art projects that were inspired by these ten black artists. There’s also a quick synopsis, in case some of these names are new to you. Click on any button to go to the full art lesson with instructions and free step-by-step download.

Alma Woodsey Thomas

Art by Alma Thomas, a famous Black Artist that students should know about.

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) was the first Black woman to have a show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was also the first Black woman to have work acquired by the White House.

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley (1977) made a name for himself for his naturalistic, brightly colored portraits of young black men, often with dramatic flowery backgrounds. Wiley’s portraits are an essential document of the power, fashion, versatility and beauty of the black community.

William H. Johnson

William H. Johnson (1901-1970) is regarded as one of the most progressive painters of his time and as one of the South’s most revered twentieth-century artists. Children can learn through a tutorial how to draw in his distinctive style.

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) Lawrence was one of the first African American artists to gain broad recognition within the segregated art world of the 1940s, and he is renowned for his serialized projects, including “The Migration of the Negro” and “War Series”, among other works.

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman (1998) is an American poet and activist known for works that address Black identity, feminism, marginalization, and climate change. She gained international fame when she read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was an Puerto Rican/Haitian American artist who rose to success during the 1980s. He was one of the first African American artists to reach international stature and wealth in the art world, and had a short but impactful career.

Bernard Hoyes

Bernard Hayes (1951) was born in Jamaica but finished his studies in the U.S. His works have been featured in numerous television and film productions, and collected internationally. With compositions that boast majestic color and bold creativity, his artwork is known for stirring the heart, mind and soul. 

Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold (1930) is an American painter, painting on different materials including fabric, a published author, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, and intersectional activist. She is best known for her painted story quilts – art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.

Quilters of Gee’s Bend

The quilts of Gee’s Bend are created by a group of women and their ancestors who live or have lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama along the Alabama River. The quilts of Gee’s Bend are among the most important African-American visual and cultural contributions to the history of art within the United States.

Horace Pippin

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was an American folk painter known for his depictions of African American life and of the horrors of war. He was a self-taught African American painter who attracted attention amid the national fascination with “folk,” “primitive,” and “naïve” art in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Famous Black Artists Mural Projects

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