• S. Alex Dooley

Black Artists We Love

Being artists ourselves, we feel it would be amiss if we failed to celebrate our favorite Black Artists and their works during Black History Month.



No. 1 Bisa Butler

Artist Statement

"In my work, I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen.

My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history.


My subjects are African Americans from ordinary walks of life who may have sat for a formal family portrait or may have been documented by a passing photographer. Like the builders of the White House, they have no names or captions to tell us who they were."


What We Love

I would like to personally thank Instagram for suggesting Butler as an "Account to Follow." I was instantly in awe of her talent and fascinated with her use of quilting as a medium to tell the stories of her subjects — it is truly spectacular.


Learn more and view the works of Bisa Butler at claireoliver.com.



No. 2 Bisa Butler

Artist Statement

"In my work, I am telling the story— this African American side— of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen.

My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history.


My subjects are African Americans from ordinary walks of life who may have sat for a formal family portrait or may have been documented by a passing photographer. Like the builders of the White House, they have no names or captions to tell us who they were."


What We Love

I would like to personally thank Instagram for suggesting Butler as an "Account to Follow." I was instantly in awe of her talent and fascinated with her use of quilting as a medium to tell the stories of her subjects — it is truly spectacular.


Learn more and view the works of Bisa Butler at claireoliver.com.



No. 2 George Hunt

Artist Bio

"Artist George Hunt has long been recognized as one of the top artists in the South and has also gained a national reputation through touring exhibits and shows from Seattle to New York, Chicago and New Orleans. His first love is Blues Music which finds its way in to most of his painting. But George Hunt also creates incredible images about Civil Rights, African beauty and the rich history of African-Americans in the South. George Hunt paints with color and feeling."


What We Love

From the music, food, people, and art, I've never experience a more authentic city than Memphis, Tennessee. If you've spent any time there, you understand how George Hunt's work perfectly depicts the rich history and colorful vibes of all things Memphis.


However, one of his most notable pieces, "America Cares/Little Rock Nine" (shown above) was actually commissioned to pay tribute to the first nine black students to integrate a white school, known as "The Little Rock Nine." The painting lived in the White House upon the request of First Lady Hillary Clinton before returning to its permanent home in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2005, the piece was selected by the United States Post Office to be issued in a series of stamps celebrating the milestones of Civil Rights under the banner, "To Form A More Perfect Union."


Learn more and view the works of George Hunt at georgehuntart.com.



No. 3 Catherine Vaughn

Artist Statement

"Let me start by saying that art was not my first love, music was, playing the clarinet and french horn. In the 10th grade I took art classes for the first time while attending Marion High School and absolutely loved them. I came to the realization that God had other plans for me. I have lived in Clarkedale, Arkansas most of my life and relate to Crittenden County and the tri-state area. Looking at the farmer’s fields, as the crops and seasons change, is just majestic to me. Just watching the clouds pass over the fields all around me is absolutely beautiful and hope to convey these emotions in my work. I took this desire with me to Memphis College of Art, where I received my Bachelors of Fine Art/Graphic Design degree. During my time there, painting was put on the back burner, as I studied 2D and 3D design, illustration, printmaking, and paper making, etc. After I graduated, several years went by, but I was drawn back to my first love of painting and I have never felt so strong and renewed! My mom bought me several cameras and I started taking pictures and changing images to what I liked. Studying and drawing from other artists work was not for me anymore. I do only original work and that is so important to me! I love to see people take another look, because they may have missed something the first time around when looking at my artwork. God has always blessed me to have a close knit family, that encourages me to do my best! This is who I am, and believe you can identify with my love for the beauty around me. Looking at my work, I hope you will see what I see."

What We Love

I first stumbled upon Catherine Vaughn while exploring the upcoming art exhibits at the EACC Fine Arts Center. I looked into Vaughn's work and felt an immediate connection her paintings of the Arkansas Delta, a place we both call "home." Looking at her works,


Learn more and view the works of Catherine Vaughn at catherinevaughnartwork.com.



No. 4 Kehinde Wiley

Artist Statement

"Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world."


What We Love

As much of the world, I first learned of Wiley when his portraits of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were revealed. I remember scouring the internet to find prints of my very own, which are now beautifully displayed on a wall of exposed brick in my home.


For me, the paintings so perfectly represented the legacy of our nation's first African American President and First Lady in an equally bold, progressive, and beautiful manner.


Learn more and view the works of Kehinde Wiley at kehindewiley.com.


#blackhistorymonth #blackartists #byrdhaus #catherinevaughn #kehindewiley #bisabutler #georgehunt