In recent years, there exist many African-American artists who belong to the booming interdisciplinary field, which is called the study of identity. Thus, it is a fact that many African-American artists of the past were also able to present new and interesting visions of identity in their works that challenge not only existing cultural and racial stereotypes, but even an attitude to the legacy of slavery.
Observing the art of various artists, we need to dwell on the art of several African-American artists with more details. These artists are Edmonia Lewis, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Betye Saar. Thinking about the works of Edmonia Lewis, we can mention that her sculptures were infused with both demonstration of personal relevance and timely presented human rights issues. Moreover, Lewis’ theoretical frame allows to escape from understanding various categories such as race or gender as an objective fact, or as innate properties of the individual. Instead of this, the sculptor proposed to consider such characteristics as the product of identification with a particular model, the implementation of the own ideas of what should exist in response to the expectations of society.
Henry Ossawa Tanner was a brilliant painter who could not stay calm concerning racial stereotypes of his time, and he was also one of the first artists of his race who achieved international acclaim. It can be said that the painter made his works allegorical for the purpose to demonstrate African-American pride and dignity. So, his works of art were a kind of claim against social injustice with respect to African Americans.
Dwelling on the art of Betye Saar, we can state that this person considered itself a collage of several cultures and identities, while African identity played not the last place in her development. For instance, her work “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima”¯ presented the way how African-American women were treated as a kind of sex object, or even domestic soldier; and the work also showed the revolt to become free of previously existing stereotypes about woman’s place in society. It can be added that Saar was really angry about issues concerning racism and segregation, and tried to change a situation by all means.
In conclusion, it is impossible to overestimate the contribution of the above mentioned artists into the struggle against African American humiliation because these artists were trying to demonstrate new visions of identity, and they finally proved that African Americans have a strong will and there exist many reasons to respect them.