Minneapolis Black Artists & Creatives You Should Know About
Minneapolis is lucky enough to be represented by plenty of Black creatives sharing their unique perspectives and talents. And in a time where the country is focused on taking a stand against racism, supporting the work of Black artists is one way you can show a commitment to the community and social justice. We've highlighted a few local Black artists that are sharing their stories and skills in their own creative ways.
Marlon James has become one of the most decorated local authors in Minneapolis. His novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, making James the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. Many of his works include themes of life in Jamaica and colonialism. James is also an associate professor of English at Macalester College in St. Paul. Books: John Crow's Devil, The Book of Night Women, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and The Dark Star Trilogy: Black Leopard, Red Wolf (#1), Moon Witch, Spider King (#2), and The Boy and the Dark Star (#3)
Resmaa Menakem is a local therapist and trauma specialist based in Minneapolis. He authored a groundbreaking book which discusses how racism doesn’t just affect the mind, but is deeply embedded in the body. Menakem is a NY Times best selling author. Books: My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship, The Quaking of America: An Embodied Guide to Navigating Our Nation's Upheaval and Racial Reckoning, and Life, Leadership, and Legacy: 101 Tips for Emerging Justice Leaders
Junauda Petrus is a writer, pleasure activist, filmmaker and performance artist. She uses her Black-Caribbean roots to inspire her work as well as themes of Black-diasporic-futurism, queerness, ancestral healing, and liberation. Books: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
T. Aaron Cisco's work is focused on contemporary Afrofuturism. He has also worked as a television producer and is a contributing writer for Twin Cities Geek. Cisco is also the founder of TC Trek Trivia and Wibbly Wobbly Wednesdays – the only pub trivia nights in the Twin Cities dedicated to Star Trek and Doctor Who (respectively). Books: Black Nerd Blue Box: The Wibbly Wobbly Memoirs of a Lonely Whovian, Teleportality, Dragon Variation, The Preternaturalist, Simple Not Easy, Shadow of the Valley, and Big Ass Aliens, and Rod String Nail Cloth: An Afrofuturist Mixtape
Eyenga Bokamba produces large-scale abstract paintings using acrylic, calligrapher’s ink and mixed media to create layers of translucence in her work. Bokamba's creative practice is based in Minneapolis and Italy.
Ta-coumba T. Aiken has helped create over 300 murals and public art sculptures. His work has included themes of local history, and his own style of rhythmic pattern and spirit writing. He serves as an arts administrator, educator and community activist who focuses on public art and collaborative projects.
Noah Lawrence-Holder's work highlights queer and black artists through illustrations, animation, motion graphics and comics. Their art has been featured in gallery shows and they are currently working full-time creating motion graphics for nonprofits and public awareness campaigns.
Leslie Barlow shares stories of multiculturalism, identity, representations, trauma and race through her oil paintings and mixed material art pieces. She examines and re-imagines relationships to racial identities through decolonizing and healing the collective understanding of belonging and what it means to be family.
Kprecia Ambers is a freelance illustrator and the founder of KP Inspires. She uses illustration as her voice to educate, celebrate black beauty, influence and empower Black girls, and push good energy into the world.
Christopher E. Harrison creates paintings, drawings, sculptures and collages through illustrations and graphic design to tell the story of the Black experience.
Vanessa McDuffie is a woman of many hats. Vanessa is a personal stylist, model, educator and advocate for body positive communities and inclusivity.
Leeya Rose Jackson is an illustrator, art director, painter, printmaker, and podcast host. She owns the company Noisemaker, a black & femme-owned design, branding, and illustration studio based in Minneapolis, who's mission is to service small start-ups and BIPOC projects by providing them with high-level brand design.
Reggie LeFlore uses portraits of "everyday people" to tell stories by mixing aerosol, acrylic paint and various graphic techniques throughout his pieces. His art is filled with vibrant colors and contemporary elements and is inspired by the concepts and philosophies of street art culture and illustration.
Jendayi Berry has had a diverse set of influences on his work, including Monet & Frank Lloyd Wright mixed in with street art and propaganda. His work gives you a look at the inaccuracies of the world and the duty to re-imagine it.
Maiya Lea Hartman is an acrylic painter and mixed-media artist that focuses on creating art from observations of the world around them and how people interact with the environment. Their techniques range from pencil and pen drawing, to acrylic painting and watercolors.
Taylan De Johnette is a designer and visual artist who works to bring awareness to larger social, racial and political issues through her work. She uses Minimal design, tiny type, and color in her art.
N. Musinguzi is a documentary photographer and freelance visual journalist, dedicated to telling the story of historically-marginalized individuals, their communities and collective vision for social change.
Bobby Rogers currently serves as the official photographer for the Walker Art Center. His work as a visual artist is centered around his multiple identities as a Black, millennial Muslim.
LeShon Lee is a photographer and videographer, specializing in portrait photography, wedding photography, and music videos.
Adja Gildersleve spent years as an organizer of the Black Lives Movement and is now the Co-director of Free Truth—a media company using art as a tool for liberation. As a filmmaker, photographer, and educator Adja is committed to fighting oppression in any form and supporting youth and adults to access tools to build and maintain agency and power.
Patience Zalanga uses her work as a documentation of Black life, with a heavy focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black community’s response to the murders of unarmed Black men. Her goal is to understand the connections of people, spaces and history—particularly as a Black woman living in Minnesota.
Uzoma Obasi is the CEO of The Creative Group LLC, a multi-faceted production business consisting of Creative Mind Studios and Creative Copilot. He uses photography to tell stories about an organization, and works with businesses to find creative solutions.
Asha Belk works as a social worker by day and a photographer in every other aspect of her life. The majority of her art is focused on food photography, but she also works on lifestyle and community projects.
Augustus Isaac came to Minneapolis from the West Coast were he pursed many different occupations including working as a policeman, fireman, Navy Serviceman, and Chef before finding his passion and devoting his time to photography. He is a candid & fine art photographer that captures the world around him through visions of life, love, passion and freedom.
Nikki Jean first gained major recognition in 2008, when she was featured on Lupe Fiasco's single "Hip-Hop Saved My Life". In 2018, she signed a recording contract with Rhymesayers Entertainment for the release of her new EP.
Sounds of Blackness is a vocal and instrumental ensemble. They perform music from several genres music including gospel, R&B, soul, and jazz. In the 90s the group had multiple songs featured on on the Billboard R&B and Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts.
Sophia Eris has gained traction recently as a solo artist, but her impressive past has included touring with Lizzo as a DJ, hosting the morning show on Go 95.3, a Minneapolis hip-hop local radio station, and a collaboration with Prince. More recently she released a solo EP, and performed at major festivals like Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza.
SYM1 performs electronic (dark) pop, using surrealism as a focal point. SYM1's music is "created for misfits, mathematicians and mutants of all kinds."
Nur-D also known as Matt Allen, makes and performs Hip-Hop music for everyone who has ever felt a little different. He does this by blending geek culture, activism, and pro wrestling themes throughout his lyrics.
Seaberg is an alt jazz, hip hop, and punk band fronted by Black genderqueer guitarist, Taylor Seaberg with the Velvet Punks, Traiveon Dunlap and Roderick Glasper.
Gully boys consists of Kaytee, Nadirah, and Natalie. This rock trio play a style that blends grunge, a little bit of emo, and some early punk.
Lady Lark is a pop, soul and funk musical artist who gained popularity around 2018. She's been named City Page's Best R&B Artist and performed at the annual Basilica Block Party festival.
Lady Midnight is part of a duo group called Parables of Neptune. As Lady Midnight, she has recorded with international touring artists Bon Iver and Brother Ali, as well as performed with internationally acclaimed icons Common, Moby, Andra Day, and Aloe Blacc, among others. Her inspiration comes from multidisciplinary background in visual art, dance and Afro-indigenous roots and uses her artistry as a power for change and confronting trauma.
Miloe is an up and coming indie pop band that was originally started in 2017 as the Soundcloud project of Bob Kabeya, then later joined by Theo Galetka, Thomas Schroeder and Dom Winterbauer.
Dua Saleh is a popular Sudanese-American recording artist, songwriter, poet, and actor. Their music has been characterized as rap, pop, and R&B, although they have also been described as defying genres.
Dwynell Roland has exploded on the local hip-hop scene. He's preformed at some of the state's biggest festivals, including Rock The Garden, Zombie Pub Crawl and Snowta NYE festival. He's also opened up for MGK and Sean Kingston.