Black Art: The Brilliant Black Womxn Behind The Scenes

We know you love Black art, Black women in art, so we gathered a few names of Black and Brown womxn running things.

We aren’t the art experts or snobs, but we love it just like you. So, we came up with this list through friends of the shop, and through the books we carry, like We Are Here by Jasmine Hernadez and resources our very own Brooke, an art graduate student at Columbia, has supplied.

This growing list features curators, influencers, bloggers, gallery owners, and much more.

Words can’t describe the challenge of compiling a comprehensive list. We’d like this to be a full-on directory, but unfortunately, like most other industries, the art scene is fragmented and filled with barriers and glass ceilings. The truth is, Black women have never been treated equally in the art world, and today they remain underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses.

We’d wish we could say this was just our opinion, but this is a fact and why we created this list and encourage you to contribute in the comments and, most importantly, support them.

This list doesn’t do Black women genius justice, but it does celebrate it and gives you a perfect starting block for your own search.

Check them out!

Thelma Gordon
In our eyes, Thelma is the Queen Bee in modern day art as Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her mic dropping exhibition, Black Male, investigated the complex aesthetics and politics at work in representations of African-American men in the post-Civil Rights era.  Several womxn featured in the list have interned or worked at the Studio Museum of Harlem under Thelma’s leadership.
Check out this TEDxTalk of her speaking about cultural change -

Legacy Russell
A fantastic writer born and raised right here in NYC, she’s also the Executive Director & Chief Curator of the experimental new media, art, and performance institution The Kitchen. Her latest release, Glitch Feminism, is a book that describes online queer communities as a space to find yourself and your voice.
For more info, go to

Naomi Beckwith
Out of Chi-Town, is the deputy director and chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She joined the museum in June 2021. Previously she had been the senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Beckwith joined the curatorial staff there in May 2011. She completed an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Kimberly Drew “Museum Mammy”
She’s a young queer critic, model, and author. She released her first book, This Is What I Know About Art, in 2020, as part of a children's series from Penguin. Later that year, she published an anthology, Black Futures, with New York Times' staff writer Jenna Wortham. Also spent time as an intern at Studio Museum of Harlem among other art spaces.Follow her on Instagram @museummammy
Jenna Wortham
Based out of New York, she’s an insightful writer and podcast host. She hosts Still Processing with Wesley Morris and is also a staff writer for The New York Times. Her work covers art, pop culture, tech, politics, as well as Black and queer Life. In 2020, she collaborated with Kimberly Drew “Museum Mammy” on the anthology, Black Futures. Follow her on Instagram @jennydeluxe

Bridget R Cooks
Author and professor at UC Irvine, her award-winning book, Exhibiting Blackness, discussed her life as a Black artist and other personal experiences. She’s currently working with artists Lava Thomas and Titus Kapar on the exhibition titled: The Black Index. Find more info on her faculty profile.

Kellie Jones
American art historian, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, and professor at Columbia University of the City of New York, she’s appeared in many exhibition catalogs and journals. She has also authored two award-winning books, EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art and South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Go to for more info.

Essence Harden
Currently residing in sunny Los Angeles, CA, Essence Harden is a visual arts curator and program manager at the California African American Museum and an independent arts writer. She’s curated numerous exhibitions throughout California and New Orleans and is also a contributor to New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Check her out at

Mashonda Tifrere
Harlem-born renaissance woman, as called her, Mashonda is an art curator, mother, singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. In 2016, she partnered with Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD and Gucci’s Chime for Change and launched ArtLeadHER, a female artist advocacy organization created to increase the representation of women in visual arts. Last year, she curated Truth About Me, a collaboration with fashion icon and philanthropist Donna Karan. Follow her on Instagram@mashondatifrere

We've filled this list with Black womxn talent and a place to begin your Black art journey. Follow them, buy their books, and attend their exhibits.

A good amount of information shared came from Jasmine Hernandez's, We Are Here, Book featured at NiLu.   Feel free to check it out.

Who else should we include on this list?

Drop your edits, favorites, and recommendations below. Let’s make this a living blog and turn the comments section into a community where real people give feedback!

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