10 Initiatives That Support Black and Artists of Color

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November 16, 2020

In recent years, museums in the United States have been moving toward diversifying their permanent collections to remediate the historical underrepresentation of non-male and non-white artists. Yet, their collections remain overwhelmingly white and male.

However, there are certain nonprofit organizations that have been modeling the kind of diversity needed in the art world for decades. Operating at a local, national, or global scale, these foundations, non-profits, organizations work to provide better opportunities and visibility to artists of color.

Artist-led or founded by famous artists, here are ten black and POC artists initiatives that aim to foster the careers of aspiring black creatives in a variety of ways.

Featured image: NXTHVN, via NXTHVN.

Art + Practice

Conceived and founded by artist Mark Bradford, activist Allan DiCastro, and philanthropist and art collector Eileen Harris Norton, Art + Practice (A+P) collaborates with a nonprofit social service provider to support the needs of 18 to 24-year-old foster youth who are transitioning into adulthood, and provide free access to museum-curated contemporary art celebrating artists of color.

Based in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, this art and social service organization has a free-access exhibition space, organizes a public program space for moderated artist talks, panel discussions, film screenings, lectures, and workshops and offers housing opportunities and case management to foster youth.

Featured image: Art + Practice, image via Facebook.

For Freedoms

An organization led by artist Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms seeks to increase creative civic engagement, discourse and direct action. Working with artists and organizations, their goal is to center the voices of artists in public discourse, expand what participation in a democracy looks like, and reshape conversations about politics.

In fall 2020, the initiative announce the 2020 Awakening campaign centered around the new four freedoms of awakening listening, healing, and justice, inviting artists such as Guerrilla Girls, Alfredo Jaar, Kameelah Janan Rasheed and Marilyn Minter to participate in the project. The accompanying digital publication Infinite Playbook is intended to spur its readers to action using arts and culture.

Featured image: Infinite Playbook, courtesy of For Freedoms.

Rebuild Foundation

A platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation, Rebuild Foundation is dedicated to transforming buildings and neighborhoods in South Side Chicago, while sustaining cultural development as well as celebrating art. They work to support artists and strengthen communities through free arts programming, new cultural amenities, and affordable housing, studio, and live-work space.

Founded and led by artist Theaster Gates, the Foundation is based on three core values: black people matter, black spaces matter, and black objects matter.

Featured image: Theaster Gates and the Staff of the Rebuild Foundation, via Rebuild Foundation.


An innovative national arts model, NXTHVN seeks to empower emerging artists and curators of color by providing them education and access. Founded by Titus Kaphar, Jason Price, and Jonathan Brand, the organization is aimed at providing an alternative model of art mentorship and career advising, while creating significant opportunities for emerging local entrepreneurs. Their events and exhibitions respond to their community of artists, curators, and neighbors.

Featured image: NXTHVN, image via nxthvn.com.

Black Artists and Designers Guild

Founded in 2018 by Malene Barnett, Black Artists and Designers Guild is aimed at tackling the lack of representation of Black talent and culture in the design industry. Representing a curated collective of independent Black artists, makers, and designers across various art and design disciplines, they seek to provide them visibility and opportunities, while raising awareness of the misrepresentation of their ancestral legacy in design and the inequitable design culture.

Their activities include special project collaborations, exhibitions and connections, as well as events such as BADG Talks, BADG Power Dinners and BADG Design Week.

Featured image: Black Artists and Designers Guild Staff, image via badguild.info.

Tessera Arts Collective

A non-profit arts organization founded in 2018, Tessera Arts Collective is dedicated to supporting womxn (including queer, trans, femme and non-binary) abstract artists of color by providing opportunities, resources, and programming that elevates their work and practice.

Operating a storefront studio & gallery space on Frankford Avenue located in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, the collective works tirelessly to challenge the lack of opportunities for non-traditional and emerging visual artists of color, as well as the racial and gender disparities that exist in the art world.

Featured image: A'Driane Nieves from Tessera Arts Collective, courtesy of Tessera Arts Collective.

Harlem Arts Alliance

Founded in 2001, The Harlem Arts Alliance is dedicated to supporting emerging and established artists by helping build their resources, networks, and capacity. Counting over 400+ individual artist members and collaborators, the organization seeks to bridge gaps between artists and major arts institutions, amplifying the unique voices of their member artists and expanding the conversations surrounding their work.

Their collaborative programming includes workshops and a number of showcase and presentation programs.

Featured image: The Harlem Arts Alliance, via The Harlem Arts Alliance.

Black Art Futures Fund

A collective of emerging philanthropists founded in 2017, Black Art Futures Fund (BAFF) seeks to promote the elevation and preservation of Black arts and culture. Their activities include grant-making, board-matching, and organization-to-donor cultivation, all aimed at amplifying and strengthening the future of Black art.

Operating as a donor-advised fund with the Brooklyn Community Foundation, they aim to grow emerging philanthropists by providing a structured community around it and provide impactful general operating grants to those organizations.

Featured image: Black Art Futures Fund, via Black Art Futures Fund.

By Us For Us

A project-based collective, By Us For Us is creating experimental models of organizing and making, based on the ideas of liberation and love.

Founded in 2015 by Jazmin Jones, Jiun Kwon, Tsige Tafesse, Katherine Tom, and Suhyun Choi, they seek to highlight the lived experiences of those who have been impacted politically and socially by white supremacy, while de-centering whiteness and resurfacing our deeply interconnected and complicated histories.

Featured image: A project by By Us For Us, via By Us For Us.

Brown Art Ink

A nomadic community incubator, Brown Art Ink supports the arts ecosystem for artists, cultural practitioners, and communities of color. Firmly rooted in community and place as site of memory and cultural geography, their work is dedicated to ensuring opportunities for artists of color to have sustainable art careers with livable wages, fair work conditions, and equitable partnerships with institutions.

Their current project Women-in-Residence documents the histories and trajectories of women of color in the arts and culture fields.

Featured image: Brown Art Ink, via Brown Art Ink.

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