Celebrating Black Artists in School

Celebrating Black Artists in School

Last year for Black History Month, I really wanted to find a dynamic way to highlight and celebrate the work of some of my favorite Black artists. While my students were all hard at work creating art projects inspired by many of these artists (Tar Beach collages by Faith Ringgold, self portraits inspired by Amy Sherald and Vanessa Brantley Newton, etc...) I decided to create a singular bulletin board of all of my favorite black artists as a way to kick off the month.

I first chose to create simple illustrations of each artist. The artists I chose to draw were Bisa Butler, Faith Ringgold, Kehinde Wiley, Jacob Lawrence, Amy Sherald, Jean Michel Basquiat, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Romare Bearden and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. I began by sketching them out on brown paper with a white pencil, and then tracing over my lines with a chisel tip sharpie and a bingo dauber filled with India ink. I only had one shade of brown paper on hand, but I think drawing them on a variety of brown shades would have been really lovely as well. When drawing each artist, I really wanted to keep them in a monoline so that the pop of color would come from their art above.

Once each artist was drawn and traced, I cut them out and mounted them on bright fluorescent bulletin board paper for contrast. I then printed up one piece of art by each artist, then mounted them on brown paper drawn as a frame.

Perhaps the trickiest part was the title of the board due to the size and the location I was envisioning. Spending more time then I'd like to admit drawing each letter on bulletin board paper, I was finally able to cut out the letters and mount each one above the board- using sticky tack to hold. Of course a Critcut would probably have saved me a ton of time, but I am a granny and barely know how to use the internet let along a printed from the future! ;) Here is a look at how the board turned out when I finished!

I am looking forward to recreating this board for Black History month this year as well. It sparked so many great questions and conversations with my kiddos that I really enjoyed. If you would like to create this board at your school, I went ahead and created digital versions of the artists that are available for download here.

Happy Creating!

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  • Great project!!!

    Miriam Casuso
  • Thank you for such an amazing idea! I will not have time to use it this year but will work on the portraits for next year and keep them for years to come. I appreciate your willingness to share.

    Sheila Vines
  • Beautiful. Definitely would like to recreate this in my high school lobby.

    Tammie Brown

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