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Exploring Black Queer Identity Through Art

Updated: Feb 26

Check out our round-up of Black, Queer artists that we're loving right now. Each of them as their own story to tell through their works, with different life experiences guiding their practice and inspiring their creative output.

One of Olivia’s illustrations - it shows a black boy and his reflection face to face against a starry sky, in blue and purple tones.

Olivia Fields (she/her)

Olivia is an illustrator from Brooklyn, NY. Using flowing lines and soft colour, Olivia is carving out space for fresh depictions of black beauty and identity. Her work is largely influenced by Black beauty and identity, which she seeks to represent and uplift. Commonly explored themes include a gentle fascination with horror, the language of fashion, narratives of self discovery and various thoughts. - @tncts

One of Sarah’s photos - it is of a Black woman wearing a black evening dress, pearls and Timberland boots, standing in a convenience store.

Sarah Huny Young (she/they)

Sarah is a photographer, visual artist and creative director creating images that celebrate and document Black womanhood and the LGBTQ+ community in America, through intimate portraiture, editorial shoots and documentary photography at events and protests.Framing her subjects as muses, she often shoots on-location in personal, intimate spaces and natural settings. Sarah's work has been featured in The New York Times, ESPN, The Washington Post, Pittsburgh City Paper, New York Magazine, The Verge, and more. - @hunyrocks

A still from one of Tourmaline’s films - it is a close up shot of a black woman staring at the ground, she is wearing large pearl earrings and necklaces.

Tourmaline (she/her)

Tourmaline is an artist, filmmaker and activist based in New York. She has made films documenting the lives of trans trailblazers Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. in collaboration with trans actors and activists. Her work has been shown in the Met, MoMA and Tate. She is a transgender woman who identifies as queer. Tourmaline is most notable for her work in transgender activism and economic justice, through her work with Critical Resistance and Queers for Economic Justice. - @tourmaliiine

One of Rotimi’s photos - it shows two Black men holding each other, draped in thick red fabric. One has a halo made of pearls.

Rotimi Fani-Kayode (he/him)

Rotimi was a photographer who fled Nigeria for England during the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. Through dramatic and stylised portraiture, Rotimi explored the intersections of his lived experiences, as a gay, African person of forced diaspora. Fani-Kayode and many others considered him to be an outsider and a depiction of diaspora. Fani-Kayode, however, believed that due to this depiction of himself, it helped shape his work as a photographer. In interviews, he spoke on his experience of being an outsider in terms of the African diaspora, but it's also important to note that it was forced migration. His exile from Nigeria at an early age affected his sense of wholeness. He experienced feeling like he had "very little to lose." But his identity was then shaped from his sense of otherness and it was celebrated. In his work, Fani-Kayode's subjects are specifically black men, but he almost always asserts himself as the black man in most of his work, which can be interpreted as a performative and visual representation of his personal history.

One of Juliana’s self-portraits - she is naked with green skin and yellow braids, on a blue backdrop.

Juliana Huxtable (she/her)

Juliana is an intersex visual artist, writer and performer. She is the co-founder of “Shock Value” a gender-inclusive club night. Her work combines and remixes cultural references into bold new pieces of work, through self-portraiture, collage and performance. Huxtable's multidisciplinary art practice explores a number of projects, such as the internet, the body, history, and text, often through a process she calls "conditioning." She is a published author of two books and a member of the New York City-based collective House of Ladosha. - @julianahuxtable

One of Kehinde’s paintings - it shows a Black man with a shaved head sitting against a decorative background. The man wears a red and green patterned puffer jacket with a fur trimmed collar.

Kehinde Wiley (he/him)

Kehinde is a painter based in New York. His works present Black subjects with the gravitas of Old Master paintings, fusing influences from multiple artistic periods and cultures across the globe with contemporary references. Kehinde’s paintings depict rich, nuanced and modern Black masculine identities. He was the first black, gay artist to paint an official portrait of a President of the United States. In 2019, the artist debuted his first large-scale public sculpture in Times Square, New York, a bronze equestrian monument honouring the heroism of young black men in America. In 2020, Wiley received France’s distinction of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. Wiley has held solo exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally and his works are included in the collections of over 40 public institutions around the world. - @kehindewiley

A picture of one of Marcus’ installations, a 3D lightbox decorated with pictures of Black women.

Syrus Marcus Ware (he/him)

Syrus is a Canadian visual artist, activist, curator, educator and trans man who explores social justice and the culture around Black activism through his work. Syrus creates installations, paintings, film and performance as well as ongoing activist work and an academic writing practice. His work has been featured as part of the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art in 2019 in conjunction with the Ryerson Image Centre (Antarctica and Ancestors, Do You Read Us? (Dispatches from the Future)), as well as for the Bentway’s Safety in Public Spaces Initiative in 2020 (Radical Love). He has also participated in numerous group shows has participated in group shows - @syrusmarcus

One of Abelle’s illustrations - it is of a black person with short hair and yellow eyelashes being caressed by pink and blue hands.

Abelle Hayford (they/them)

Abelle is an agender Ghanian-American illustrator, character and colour designer working in the animation industry. Social media has played a huge role in Abelle’s artistic growth and uses their social media to share their art to others while also promoting other marginalized artists, too. They are the creator of the #DrawingWhilebBlack hashtag, a social media event and talent directory that celebrates the skills of Black artists who are often overlooked in the industry. - @abellehayford


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