Inspiration from artists of colour

BAME artist inspiration

I’ve put together a simple resource for bringing artists of colour into the classroom at this time.

I don’t normally do ‘colouring-in’ tasks but I’ve made a sort of exception here. The resource consists of three quotes by Maya Angelou which students can choose as the basis of their text piece. Or, put another way, they can colour in… I’ve also made inspiration sheets on three contemporary artists of colour. Each of these could feed into students’ responses.

The idea is that this activity could be a one-off to generate discussion and introduce new artists. Or it could be the starting point for a bigger project with students conducting their own research. Hopefully it is an opportunity to draw inspiration from artists of colour.

Each of the three artists I have produced inspiration sheets on could be the inspiration for a development piece of work. Or students could find other artists who produce work they are inspired by.

The artists I’ve highlighted for this resource are: Bisa Butler, Laura Mckenzie Noel, and Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo.

All of these resources can be downloaded for free in the felt-tip-pen resources shop. Click on the links below:
Maya Angelou quote
Bisa Butler artist inspiration sheet
Laura Mckenzie Noel and artist inspiration sheet
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo artist inspiration sheet

Artists of colour; resources

I’ve looked back through the resources I produce and highlighted those featuring artists of colour. You can find the full list here.

Click on the image below to a full blog post on a scheme of work responding to the Ndebele art of Southern Africa. It’s a project that I have really enjoyed teaching.

I’ve done some initial research into other places to find inspiration from artists of colour. These are listed below as a starting point. I’ll keep adding others as I find them. Please do contact me if you know of other helpful resources – I’d love to hear of them.

Tate – responses to work in the collection from Tate BAME network. This includes individual responses to a selection of work, showcasing different perspectives.

Iniva – People directory. A huge list of artists who have worked with Institute of International Arts in London over the years. It is a great list, though not very user friendly. They also produce emotional learning cards which feature many artists of colour. I highly recommend these as a great introduction to the artists featured. They also offer an excellent way to talk about contemporary art with students. The ones I have used are ‘What do you feel?’.

National Portrait Gallery – BAME artists – a list of 65 people featured in their collection.

October Gallery representing artists from around the world. A visually rich way to explore the work of a number of artists.

Paint it black: artists of colour breathing new life into ‘inert’ art form. Article in Guardian newspaper from November 2019. It features names from a new generation of artists of colour.

Teaching Tolerance. Beautifully produced posters on the theme of tolerance to be used in teaching materials. These resources are free to download and feature inspiring quotes.

Keeping on learning

It is so important that we create an environment of genuine education. As art teachers we must present all young people with inspirational role models so they can see themselves. We can draw inspiration from artists of colour.

All of us can benefit from using art to address issues of identity. We need to be talking about the catastrophes of our time including racial injustice. And most importantly, listening to and lifting up voices of those who experience this first hand.

This short article quoting the artist Banksy explains why the work on this must not fall to people of colour alone.