10 Great Black Photographers

cmw_01_bodyCarrie Mae Weems (b. April 20, 1953)

Weems has been a photographer and artist since the 1965 and her work has been featured in over 50 exhibits throughout her career. In 1983, she created her first collection of photographs and spoken word called, Family Pictures and Stories. Some of her other works include, Sea Island Series (1991-92), the Africa Series (1993), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96), Who What When Where (1998), Ritual & Revolution (1998), the Louisiana Project (2003), Roaming (2006) and others. Weems has earned many awards for her work, including becoming a MacArthur Fellow in 2013.

James_Van_Der_ZeeJames Van Der Zee (June 29, 1886 – May 15, 1983)

Van Der Zee was a major artist in the Harlem Renaissance. During the 1920s, he documented some of the most famous Black people of the time, including Florence Mills, Hazel Scott, Marcus Garvey, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Countee Cullen and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Even though his work was popular, Van Der Zee never garnered major financial success. In the 1970s, he went back to portrait photography, photographing celebrities like Bill Cosby, Lou Rawls, Cicely Tyson and Jean-Michael Basquiat.

Bringing Unseen Worlds to Light: Interview with Fine Artist Fabiola Jean-Louis

Fabiola Jean-Louis is a fine artist and photographer currently based out of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose imagery seamlessly blends magic with the mundane and reality with the speculative to bring unseen worlds out of hiding. Jean-Louis renders her portraits in such a way that it is often difficult to tell whether you are looking at something she dreamed up in her mind’s eye, or whether she was able to actually capture a glitch in the matrix, or if it is some ethereal piece of nature that let its guard down and unfolded before her. Although she has only been working at her craft since last November, she is already making waves as a visionary who can manifest diverse patterns of space-time, sci-fi, costume design and surrealism within the worlds of her art. We asked Jean-Louis about her inspirations, her creative process, her use of technology and her upcoming projects.

How would you describe your visual work? Is there a particular category, label or genre that you would affix to the images you create?

I would describe my visual work as mythical, dreamy, astrological and astronomical, ethereal, surreal. Many times, all these characteristics resonate in one piece. I tend to stay away from categorizing or labeling my work. However, my goal is always to tell a story through surrealism.

How do you define technology and how do you use it to enhance your work?

I’m a tech geek. When I think of science and all the possibilities it opens the world to – I become excited, imaginative and giddy like a little girl on a playground. At the same time, I am very aware of the astronomical damage it has caused our world … Technology comes at a heavy cost because it forces us to move forward regardless of time …

I can’t speak for every artist, but I can say that my art is a type of technology. The practical application of science to our everyday lives, seems to emphasize the distinction between the past, present and future. I use technology to do just that — emphasize the distinction between those spaces in time and, simultaneously, merge those facets together to create an art piece. Technology definitely plays a role in my creative process … From the use of my camera, to post-editing in Photoshop, and the symbols/elements found in the finished product.