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17 Artists To Fire You Up When Things Look Bleak

Because when you're moved by art, you become less complacent.

Posted on January 20, 2017, at 4:02 p.m. ET

Hello and welcome to the Official (online) Museum of Another Round, where we have some beautiful black art for you today.

On this week's episode of BuzzFeed's Another Round podcast, Kim Drew — the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Social Media Manager, as well as the mind behind the Instagram account @MuseumMammy and Black Contemporary Art Tumblr — talks art curation in white spaces, what it means to be a "careful black girl," and how to museum like a pro.

If you'd like to surround yourself with art today, take this tour of our humble lil museum and get to know some of the artists that Kim, Heben, and Tracy talk about in the episode (along with a few they didn't).

1. Kehinde Wiley

Salima Koroma / Via

You might recognize Kehinde Wiley's bold oil paintings from Lucious Lyon's home in "Empire," but before network TV, the LA-raised, NY-based painter's work has graced the walls of the Studio Museum in Harlem all the way to the Seoul Museum of Art. He reimagines power and masculinity by challenging us to think about court portraits and the black body. Fun fact: his art is currently on display in the stude where we record Another Round to always remind us of black excellence and beauty.

2. Alicia Henry

Alicia Henry / Via

Multimedia artist Alicia Henry manipulates textiles to create haunting images that explore identity and family relationships. Mark Scala of the Carl Hammer Gallery describes her as "an anti-portraitist, who depicts the exterior façade as a shield protecting aspects of the self that will always remain hidden beneath the surface, or that may indeed be absent."

Of the piece above, Kim Drew adds, "I just really love it because it is something that is equally horrifying and absolutely gorgeous."

3. Jayson Musson

View this video on YouTube

Jayson Musson / Via

If you haven't seen Jayson Musson's video series Art Thoughtz —featuring his alter-ego Hennessy Youngman go watch it right now. His irreverence, coupled with a scathing critique of the art world, has found a loyal online fanbase.

But beyond his YouTube persona, Musson's installation work, painting, and writing investigate race, culture, and media consumption in the age of the Internet.

4. Awol Erizku

Awol Erizku / Via

Photographer Awol Erizku, born in Addis Ababa and raised in the Bronx, asks viewers to question their understanding of art history by centering black subjects in Western art. He's also known for treating his Instagram like a museum, with set hours during which his account is available for public consumption. In a recent Vulture article, he says, "Art talk can be too much sometimes, and I just want to have an alternative way to communicate...that’s maybe more digestible and enjoyable.”

5. Kara Walker

Kara Walker / Via

Kara Walker made a name for herself in the art world with her series of silhouettes called Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart, from 1994. Her work deals with the often violent intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in black female identity.

She gained more mainstream recognition for her on-site "sugar baby" installation masterwork in Brooklyn, NY called, "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby" from 2014. The piece's full title makes the statement completely clear: "an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant."

6. Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems / Via

Carrie Mae Weems received the 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her work in photography - what she's best known for - as well as video and multimedia. In The Kitchen Table Series (1990), she casts herself and others in photos that feature intimate portraits of black female life, featuring card-playing, make-up-applying, and man-feeding.

7. Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett / Via

Sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett's work was deeply influenced by her early life in the segregated South and by her later life in Mexico City. After being denied admission to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, she studied at Howard University, and created pieces that reflected civil rights struggles in the US, and the labor movement in Mexico.

8. Augusta Savage

Andrew Herman / Via

Let’s take it back old-school for a sec and pay some due respect to Augusta Savage. She was a sculptor whose work during the Harlem Renaissance attracted big-name subjects like Marcus Garvey and W.E.B Du Bois.

Her dedication to her art brought her to NY with less than five dollars in her pocket in the 1920s, leading her to eventually influence a whole generation of Harlem artists as a teacher and director of the Harlem Community Art Center. She was also the first black woman member of the Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.

9. Shantell Martin

View this video on YouTube

Vocativ / Via

A master of line and gesture, Shantell Martin has attracted international acclaim for her intricate, large-scale, stream-of-conscious drawings and projections. This British-born artist is currently based in NY and can make a lot of magic with a blank wall and some big-ass markers.

10. Hank Willis Thomas

Hank Willis Thomas / Via

Hank Willis Thomas’s visceral work takes on the co-opting of black male bodies in advertising and pop culture. His bold reimagining of the Nike logo as a branded scar on a man’s bare skin will make you feel some things. In an interview with Artspace, he said "I think about how hype creates history, and how many people there are who did so much to affect how we think, how we create, how we evolved, but whose stories we'll never know because they weren't cool. And I'm always surprised when I learn about someone to realize how much I'm caught up in the hype and not really thinking about the depth." Preach, Hank.

11. Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks / Via

The man who brought us Shaft was an artist of many talents. Gordon Parks trail blazed the way for black photographers, becoming the first African-American to shoot for Vogue and Life. He was also a composer and writer, in addition to being a photographer and filmmaker. He wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Learning Tree and became the first black person to direct a major motion picture.

12. Adrian Piper

View this video on YouTube

APRA Foundation Berlin / Via

Adrian Piper, currently based in Berlin, is a conceptual artist and philosopher whose work has focused on ethics, race and cultural criticism since the 1970's. In addition to her performative public pieces challenging social norms and commenting on life as an outsider (one piece included riding a public bus around NYC with wads of paper shoved in her mouth, another 1983 video shows her teaching a group of people how to dance) Piper was also the first tenured African-American female professor of philosophy in the United States.

13. Lorna Williams

Adachi Pimentel / Via Lorna Williams

Lorna Williams is a mixed-media sculptor based in New Orleans. Their beautiful, intricate works often feature found objects and repurposed items that reference soulful incarnations of the black spirit. At just 30 years old, their work explores the role of history, myth, and culture in the formation of their own identity.

14. Nick Cave

View this video on YouTube / Via PBS NewsHour

Nick Cave (not the white musician guy) is a performance artist, sculptor, and Alvin Ailey-trained dancer who is not afraid of fun. His whimsical series SoundSuits is composed of thousands of tiny pieces of beads, flowers, and fabrics, some of which look like human chandelier suits, blossoming flower gardens, floating junk mobiles, and yeti-looking creations.

15. Phoebe Boswell

Phoebe Boswell / Via

Phoebe Boswell is a half-Kenyan, half-British visual artist whose work deals with her struggle to define home. She spent her formative years in Oman and Bahrain, and now makes art in London. Her formal experiments include moving picture installations like “The Matter of Memory,” which was exhibited at the Carroll/Fletcher Gallery in London and her work is currently a part of a curated film project called African Diaspora Artists in the 21st Century that's commissioned by the Cultural Institute at King’s College, and her short film Dear Mr Shakespeare is being featured at this year's Sundance festival!

16. Emory Douglas

Emory Douglas / Via

Emory Douglas is a total badass. He was the official Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, using art to critique racism in America with the goal of speaking to the largest audience possible. He used his background in printmaking to create engaging protest art that was mass-produced and circulated through the Black Panthers' eponymous newspaper. In November of 2016 he told ArtForum "In terms of change, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s psychological warfare we’re dealing with, and movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street come out of repression and exploitation." Clearly, he hasn't stopped fighting.

17. Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas / Via

Mickalene Thomas’ gorgeous mixed-media portraits use collage to navigate the fractured sense of self that often accompanies discussions around race and beauty. In her work, you can see her thinking through what it means to feel beautiful as a black woman. If you live in New Orleans, get your booty to the Newcomb Art Museum to see her work, including her latest collaboration with Solange Knowles!

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.