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Black History: Discover The Earliest Artists in Afro-American Culture
February 6th, 2017

Afro-American culture has played a major role in shaping the vastly-rich world of art America treasures to this day, from early jazz movements to the Harlem renaissance.

This day in Black History Month, we decided to take a step back and pay tribute to the early artists that pre-cursored much of the art-forms we familiarize with today.

Artist #1: Lucy Terry (1746)

While the first wave of Africans to meet American soil dates back to 1619, records point to Lucy Terry as the first Afro-American poet. Often writing about the harsh life of a commoner residing in Deerfield, Massachusetts, her famous poem Bar's Fight garnered publication in 1855.

Artist #2: Phillis Wheatley (1773)

Esteemed for her witty personality and scholarly demeanor, Wheatley's many manuscripts eventually birthed into a collection series entitled, Poems on Various Subjects, Religions Aand Moral, and the world of art gained its first perspective from an African-American.

Artist #3: Eli Whitney (1794)

With many already taking to the art of pen and paper, Eli Whitney decided he'd make a device to aid his homeowner's plantation. His work led to the creation of the cotton gin, a clever contraption which sparked a full-scale revolution along southern plantations.

Artist #4: Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859)

As a painter, Tanner crafted masterpiece after another, often depicting Biblical images and religious montages. Famous paintings like “Nicodemus Visiting Jesus” and “The Thankful Poor” won him the title “the first African-American to attain an international audience.

Artist #5: Horace Pippin (1888)

A painter since his childhood years, Pippin struck tragedy upon losing use of his drawing arm after World War I. Despite this, Pippin persevered and taught himself to paint regardless of the injury. His diverse work ranges from biblical imagery, historical moments, as well as scenes of the common life.

By Jods Arboleda for PublicEnemy.com