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Can Tumblr Preserve Black Contemporary Art?

Talking to Kimberly Drew, the founder of 'Black Contemporary Art,' about audiences, artists, and aggregation.

Not all art makes it into art history textbooks. Kimberly Drew, the founder of Black Contemporary Art, a Tumblr that archives images of art made by black artists, learned this while interning at the Studio Museum in Harlem. “The three-month, paid internship had a profound impact on my career and opened my eyes to so many new artists and institutions,” Drew tells The Creators Project. “Each day I learned about someone or something knew: Lorraine O'Grady, the Watts Towers Arts Center, Julie Mehretu, Wifredo Lam, Trenton Doyle Hancock—so many names I'd never heard in my art history lectures.”

Drew created Black Contemporary Art to make those names known to a wider audience. “I wanted to continue to expand my knowledge of artists of color,” she explains. “When I couldn't find anything I started the tumblr. It's similar to the Toni Morrison quote, 'If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it,'" says Drew, who also helps manage the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online identity as their Associate Online Community Producer.

Sam Gilliam, 10/27/69, 1969 (Collection of MoMA)

In the four years since starting Black Contemporary Art, the website has featured over 7,000 images of artwork by more than 3,000 black artists from around the world. With over 200,000 followers it has helped to expand the reach of artists that often aren’t seen in gallery and museum settings.

“The site has been used in art history lectures, hosted independently published manifestos, invited performance artists to take over gallery spaces, and maintained its authority as an open resource to anyone interested in learning about art by artists of African descent,” says Drew.

Tabita Rezaire, Afro Cyber Resistance (Still), 2014

Steve McQueen, Bear (Still), 1993 (Collection of Tate Museum)

Lorraine O'Grady, Art Is... (Performance Still), 1983

Click here to visit Black Contemporary Art.

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