African American Abstract Art

African American abstract art dates back from the 17th century during the Colonial period. To date, African American abstract art has made its mark not only in the U.S. but also in the whole world, showing people the rich history and cultural influen

It is hard to determine the exact origin of African American abstract art. This term is actually derived from the creative endeavors of people in North America but with African heritage. When you take a closer look at their history, it is interesting to note that many slaves who came from Africa had artistic skills and talents. On the other hand, some slaves got to learn about arts and crafts from other skilled Africans and white skilled laborers.

Several Africans Americans can trace back their roots during the slave movement while others are from recent African decent. There are also some African Americans whose roots originated from the Caribbean. The Caribbean islands were one of the routes of the African slavery trade. African American art actually started during the Colonial period going all the way to the Civil War.

Art Genres

The African American abstract art is greatly influenced by the people’s social and racial status. Given the diverse influences of the African American culture, the African American artists use various mediums for their art. During the Colonial period, art was mostly dominated with making baskets, weaving, pottery and carvings. It was mainly focused on doing arts and crafts.
When the people gradually got their freedom in terms of expressing their individuality, they started exploring all kinds of materials available to create their art. Sculptures made of wood or stones were created, abstract paintings were made, tapestries and photography were experimented and so on. The people were able to explore more and create different types of art to convey their political or social ideas.


The African American abstract art is a way for African Americans to voice out their sentiments as well as showcase their rich heritage. The purpose of the art is not only to give each individual an opportunity to express their views and ideas but also to unite the community of African Americans. Young artists go to Africa to learn more of the traditional arts and crafts and incorporate these styles with contemporary ones. Most of the modern abstract art of African Americans are dominated by traditional symbols and themes.

Another purpose of the African American abstract art is to make other people aware and understand the issues faced by the African American community. In the U.S.,  African American abstract art bridges the gap among races and culture. It also promotes social awareness and encourages people to take action in eradicating discrimination, be it racial or sexual discrimination.

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