Who are the Emerging Artists that have most impressed you and why? Do you have any constructive criticism or advice for these Artists?

The impetus behind my question above comes from a question posted on Aug. 3rd, in which Brother Najee asked “What is an Emerging Artist?

Immediately following, a young Artist named Athesia offered the following insightful definition.

“I would say an emerging artist is someone who has begun to create and understand their own artistic language. An emerging artist begins to work with some consistency, in terms of their "symbol" set, themes, and subjects. That is my definition from the standpoint of the artist, but the same applies to the viewer...”

I like this definition and now want to identify more Emerging Artists.

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Comment by Turtel Onli on November 22, 2011 at 6:07pm

Life as an artist is an amazing lifestyle choice.  Welcome it!

Comment by D. Edward Dyer on February 14, 2011 at 10:37am
Definitions and labels are often easily given and difficult to withdraw.


The definitions of emerging vary from culture to culture.  In some, age plays a role.  In others, it's the amount of work accomplished and exhibited.  Still in others, it's the amount of subjective, critical acclaim received.  Often enough, it's a blend of these.  In the context of this discussion [disclaimer: I haven't read all of the wonderful 8 pages of commentary] the more mainstream definitions meld with the artistic interpretations of "emerging" to which many here allude.  Whatever definition is applied, generally creating seriously and exhibiting tirelessly brings accolades (and yes status labels) for the artist.


Technically, emerging artists work to create substantial bodies of work and exhibit - at least 5 exhibits/year over a period of five years.  Such exposure usually brings with it broader recognition, allowing the artists to "emerge" from the ranks of the less visible, closer to mid-career stature.


I encourage pre-emergent and emergent artists to allow "smart" artwork to come from their hands (and in a few gifted cases feet and mouths).  Work as hard at getting your work in front of the right audiences consistently as you do in choosing your themes, materials and finding time to be creative.  Have a long-term strategy for when you become "post-emergent" and are heading for the next label.


Selling is great.  Exhibiting is even better.

Comment by Michael D. Brinson on September 4, 2010 at 4:23pm
Sister A. Dawson Euba, thanks for your comments. I didn’t know you could be too old to be an “Emerging AA Artist.” Why do you think you might fit more into the “Mid-Career Artist” category? And what exactly is a “Mid-Career Artist?”

I remember Brother Najee’s comments regarding 20/20 vision. Unfortunately, my blog was about “Emerging AA Artists” and not “Emerging AA Masters.” However, this would be an interesting blog, “Who are the “Emerging AA Masters” and how can one identify them?” I am sure the answers here are rather complex and involve more than just identifying AA artists who have reached commercial success! Thanks again for your comments. Peace!!!
Comment by A. Dawson-Euba on September 4, 2010 at 2:09pm
I am not an emerging artist, much to old for that; so maybe, I'm in the mid-career catagory?? However, I must have had the incorrect AA connection, because my works are certainly not in many of the collections on this site. Najee, you have excellent 20/20... I could not have said it better, "I only say have balance in your collection and don't miss the boat on the works of some "Emerging Masters".
Comment by Michael D. Brinson on August 31, 2010 at 6:14am
Brother Nathaniel, Sister Amanda,

Final thoughts: Young African American “Emerging Artists” should be free to develop their own artistic voices, free of imposed cultural restraints and obligations. African American culture is a dynamic social construct that will continue to evolve over time, especially given the current climate of diversity and globalization. Consequently, the artistic playing field of ideas is wide open. With respect to African American culture, I hope that some of today’s African American “Emerging Artists” will help us to 1) put the past in perspective, 2) address today’s issues and 3) take us to the future. This is certainly better that over romanticizing the past, ignoring the present and fighting the future. Some African American “Emerging Artists” will choose not to make African American culture centric to their art, and this too should be ok. Above all, we should continue to love and respect each other. Peace!!!
Comment by Nathaniel on August 30, 2010 at 7:03am
Also that idea of "other" is shown in the new movie out now, Radiant Child (Jean Michel Basquiat) and shows how they read his work along with the other racists issues; however they don't stay there long enough for you to really see it or consider was who back then.
Comment by Nathaniel on August 30, 2010 at 6:54am
Yep Amanda, a few of my friends were having that discussion a couple of days ago. The automatic categorization
of one's work because you're black. What's a trip about that is even if you're doing work that responds or challenges about that very idea the "mainstream" will not see there roles in that work and still try to reduce it to one read and that being the racial one. I don't have cable but read some of Jerry Saltz's comments and the comments on his blog and saw the same thing. This is even more reason why there needs to be more scholarly writers on our works from our background and experiences. I also thought that it would be read a bit differently because he's nonthreatening and that seems to open "them" up to you as not being angry, unlike a bald black cat like myself..lol but alas, I guess not. "The miseducation of the "non" negro.
Comment by Amanda Williams on August 30, 2010 at 6:33am
You should read "Post Black" by Ytasha Womack if you haven't. She's a young sister, a journalist/writer/filmmaker/superwoman who has written a book that gets at the blacks, whites and grays of exactly what you're talking about. I think you might find yourself nodding your head to how she articulates the conflict we're describing.
My favorite sort of 'example' (not quite sure that's the right word) is Kara Walker in the HBO "Black List Part II" Documentary in which she says something akin to "Black artists can paint a wall full of yellow smiley faces and the (white) art world would still say 'why are you so angry?'" So in addition to the question of when/why/how black artists might signify their blackness in their art...even if they aren't trying, the art world will often fabricate links that aren't there so that they can better "locate" the artist. (There is my 'locate' again...haaaa). Recent case in point is Abdi Farrah on the Bravo art competition. As one of the last 3 finalists, his work was described as the one having dealt with 'race'...but it wasn't. I mean perhaps it was tangentially there, but knowing Abdi, religion, transcendence, personal growth...all of these were much more at play in the work. But just because the figures were black and wore air jordans...it was sort of all this art critic could relate to. They even compared his work to Hank Willis Thomas. So if either of the other two finalists (both white) had used Air Jordans, it would have been a commentary on "American" culture, or on the youth generation, but Abdi in the end, despite the breadth and variety of his work, was reduced to race in a 10 second tv edit. So perhaps a No.4 for you list could be something about 'involuntary categorization'? something like that?
Comment by Michael D. Brinson on August 29, 2010 at 8:58pm
Amanda, points well taken! I don’t know if I picked up on your confliction or just articulated my own. I sometimes think of market savvy as a willingness to compromise ones integrity. I know it doesn’t have to be this way, but marketing success could bring about the temptation to do so. Regarding the mainstream marketing savvy of the Masters, you are probably correct in that some were better at it than others. I can’t imagine what impact the internet and today’s technology would have had on the Masters. Maybe they would have resorting to selling off-set lithos in edition sizes of 2000 or selling “create as you go” giclees.

The use of the terms “traditional / non-traditional” was an attempt to add more definition to the terms Black / Post Black which seems to always invoke emotional responses. But to your point, I agree that some of Masters named made works that were non-traditional for their time. But in doing so, some were able to extend the boundaries of what is acceptable from African American artists, and some were not. I may need to refine my terminology here, perhaps “traditional / non-traditional AA symbolism. Unfortunately, this doesn’t cover abstraction very well.

One of my main points (under development) is that African American (“AA”) artists are now in conflict over things like 1) using “traditional or non-traditional AA symbolism, 2) pursuing personal ambitions or following the expectations of AA art community. 3) Romanticizing the past or dealing with the present/future. Thanks for sharing. Peace!!!
Comment by Amanda Williams on August 29, 2010 at 5:01pm
Great response Michael. I think your questions pick up on the fact that I'm conflicted. I don't know if wanting to /being able to attach the accepted jargon to your work is desirable. I would also say that many of the artists I listed probably don't know either. Its more gray than you or I have outlined. In the end, the particular artist's objective for their own work and career will probably drive where or how they seek accolades.

I'd also say that I'm not convinced about your point regarding the masters and their mainstream marketing savvy. They were much more strategic than might be noted. Many accounts suggest that they gave as much thought as my generation, but didn't have the benefit of the today's internet resources for self-promotion.

Also, I'm not quite sure how I feel about such a neat line of traditional/non-traditional, although I think I understand the point you're trying to make. Many of the artists you named, as well as Frank Bowling, Alma Thomas, Raymond Saunders, Richard Mayhew...had work that probably can't be described as 'traditional'...or perhaps elaborate on what you meant.

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