For Your Kid’s Budding Art Collection, Turn To These 8 Artists That Teach Black Pride
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My son was a few years old when Black Panther hit theaters (remember life before the pandemic?). Even though he was too young to see the movie, he was obsessed: here was a Black action hero in all his splendid glory! While we waited for him to get old enough to see it, we bought him a kids book on Black Panther, and that deepened his love.
But then, one day, I spotted Nikkolas Smith’s painting of Chadwick Boseman kneeling next to a little Black boy with a Black Panther mask on while their arms formed the Black Panther salute. Thus began my son’s art collection.
Start your kid’s art collection when they’re young and you surround them with images that have the power to resonate with them deeply. The art that adorns our homes and our kid’s lives can be a reflection of their identity and be affirming in a powerful way, especially for Black kids who may not always see themselves in the media surrounding them. It can teach lessons of strength, pride, and joy.
One other benefit? It might even inspire their own creativity. Showing them Black artists who so beautifully speak to Black pride can do wonders for kids who are looking to the world around them for joy and beauty.
I’ve put together my favorite artists for kids that teach them Black pride. All the artists offer prints at affordable prices so you can start collecting now.
I start with Smith because he started my son’s collection. With dreamy pieces that illustrate Black pride and beauty, Smith’s work is known to delight while being appealing to kids. This New York Times bestselling illustrator and author has illustrated some of my faves, like The 1619 Project: Born On The Water, written by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, among others. Besides prints, he also offers t-shirts that start at $40, if your kid is into wearable art.
I have a special place in my heart for Regis because we’re both Trinidadians and I’m especially proud of the power of his work. We own a print of his that speaks to the protests that erupted after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. At once a conversation catalyst, it serves as a daily reminder to us of the power of racial justice, not just in our home but in our community.
I bought my daughter’s first print by Poblah before she was even born. I was strolling through Union Square Market in New York City and ducked into the holiday market. Poblah’s booth was overflowing with eager patrons who wanted to snag her bright, delightful, vibrant prints that depict womanhood in all its varied beauties. I purchased a piece that shows a group of young women, including a girl in a wheelchair, a Black girl, and others. Poblah’s use of bright colors are ideal for kids who love that vibrancy. Many of her prints start at the reasonable price of $40.
We discovered Gordon, a 2020 Global Child Prodigy Award winner, at our local library through his kids book that features illustrations of some of his heroes. My toddler repeatedly picks it for her bedtime story because of Gordon’s penchant for open, welcoming faces. Gordon is a great artist to start your kid’s collection because his work is ideal for babies who, studies say, love looking at faces.
I had heard of Butler’s work before we discovered some of her paintings at a Newark museum. Butler’s use of collage and fabric is an explosive emergence of life in detail. I enjoyed pointing out all the small parts of her artwork that make up the whole to my son. Her use of prints and texture to depict the Black experience often include children. Your kids are sure to gravitate to her and be inspired to create their own collages.
Akilah’s work has the uncanny ability to translate emotion without showing the face of her subjects. She’s known for her accurate depictions of Black hairstyles and the traditional styles that so many of us used to sport as kids. Its nostalgia resonates on an immensely deep level for us Black people. I fell in love with it all, from the beads to the zig zag parts.
Digital artist Khia A.’s bold colors that translate Black identity are rich in textures, drawing one into the big afros, hair wraps, cropped tops, baby hairs, and hoop earrings. Her use of color is light and playful, and all her work brings out the beauty of melanin. Kids will be sure to identify with the spirit of her pieces.
Author and illustrator Monica Ahanonu’s bright yellow website is the backdrop for powerful, graphic images that celebrate Black pride in every way. From her work with Time magazine, Peloton, Google, and Facebook, among an impressive list of clients, what is not lost in her work is a voice that resonates with children. One can sense the movement floating off her pages as she fuses fashion, joy and love in her artwork. Your kids will have a blast picking one of her many pieces to adorn their space. From pieces as affordable as $50, you’ll be smiling, too.