Toni Morrison said, “The best art is political, and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.”
This sentiment is especially true for Black artists who have historically and often used their work to navigate complex issues like racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia and find a way forward. For many Black artists, their work speaks not only for themselves but for the many others whose voices are often left out of mainstream media and art spaces.
“I don’t use my artwork to bring about social justice. It’s not one of my goals as an artist. However, I think that my artwork makes that happen and is inherently political because of my Blackness and queerness,” explains Gabriella Grimes, a visual artist who primarily uses their work to depict trans folks in beautiful, vibrant, and honest settings.
Grimes’ work is about self-acceptance and helping queer people of color, especially trans folks, celebrate their identities. They say, “By painting queer people of color with a focus on trans people, I put a part of the population that people like to pretend doesn’t exist directly into people’s vision. I tell people ‘we’re here, we’ve always been here, and we’re not going anywhere. We deserve to be happy and safe!’”