How racial reckonings and a global pandemic have inspired these Black artists: ‘I needed to do this thing’

Art has long been a form of resistance and rebellion, and for centuries, Black artistic expression has laid the groundwork for many revolutions.

But historically, Black artists have been cast out of mainstream conversations, only to be recognized posthumously for their contributions to history. Now, with the increasing push to uplift Black artists in real-time, many creators, from Kehinde Wiley to Kara Walker, have had opportunities to showcase their excellence in spaces previously closed off to people of color.

Interdisciplinary designer Jayvn Solomon, and painter, muralist and community leader Janel Young, sat down with Yahoo Life to discuss the future of Black art and how this year’s setbacks have inadvertently created an overflow of opportunities.

Young found herself producing some of the work she’s most proud of earlier this year, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and amidst the ongoing pandemic. “I was struggling with, like, how do I put out this really positive thing when we’re in such a shi**y situation? But then I realized that is exactly what people needed,” Young says, referring to the coloring book she created about hair positivity. “I needed to do this thing and put this thing in the world for other people to feel better about everything that’s going on.”

Solomon shares a similar story. With Black Lives Matter initiating conversations around inequality and social justice, he was able to find an intersection where his art could live — not only imitating life at the moment, but for also sharing what it could look like in the future.

“Being an artist today is interesting. I told myself instead of venting on the internet, I’m going to put it into whatever it is I want to do,” says Solomon. “I care about my people having a sustainable future.”

Watch the full video above to learn about the future of Black creativity.

Video produced by Kelly Matousek.

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