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In the world of art, there have certainly been art forms that deviated from the norms of previous generations: cubism, surrealism, non-objective, and street art are some big ones. However, throughout history, one thing across Europe, Asia, South America, and North America that has remained constant about art is the distinct lack of black people, especially in modern art. Perhaps Asia can be partially excused, but black people have existed all over the world for generations, so why has our art been so whitewashed as to represent only light-skinned people in our works when people whose heritage is in Africa are left on the backburner of the stove of representation?
While the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has caused modern art to be more inclusive, the artists who draw, paint, and sculpt black art are still numbered, so I’d like to take this opportunity to draw attention to one exceptional artist of color- Justin Copeland (@justincopeland-art on Instagram).
Copeland has been the proud owner of an Instagram art account since May of 2017 and while that may not seem like a long time, he has certainly been hard at work filling his account with dozens of vibrant 2-D images, each with their own unique, cultural air about them. Copeland focuses predominantly on the black female form, making himself out to be a major feminist as he supports women of color not only in the art itself but in his empowering captions with phrases like “They don’t rule the world. You do…” and “All life comes from you and your love brings strength and health to all beings.”
Each of Copeland’s pieces are made on a digital painting program with which he adds a graffiti-like effect of empowering words and intricate designs on top of the human form. The words “brave”, “love”, and “strong” are just a few of the liberating things that he adds on amidst the geometric shapes and swirling lines.
Copeland’s love and appreciation of black women is something that modern media is not yet used to, but we are slowly making our way there. With his promotions of peace and harmony, Copeland is sure to be one of the major artists who leads the movement of empowering everyone- not just skinny white girls, but people of all races, body types, and ethnicities.