Harlem Renaissance

More controversial than one might think, Art was one of the most influential expressions of black culture during the era of the Harlem Renaissance. Constantly torn between whether they should return to African routes for inspiration or pull from the American culture they had assimilated into, African-Americans all wanted to have their voice heard at the beginning of the 20th century. They wanted to find their voice that had so long been drowned out by the yelling of the white populace since and before the civil war. To free themselves from the bondage of economy and to finally be respected as a people, many turned to art for the advancement of their culture. Serving not only for aesthetic and symbolist qualities, art also served as a voice in the political world.
Many black political leaders of the time, including W.E.B. DuBois and Alain Locke, believed that art could open up many opportunities for the black population. By painting or sculpting the black individual could be seen as more than just a victimized or one dimensional race. Through art, one could break the stereotype of "Jim Crow" and be seen as a profound and intriguing character. People such as DuBois and Locke also believed that by selling artworks blacks could become financially stable and be able to participate in the game that was economy.
The artists of the time, however, were pulled into two very different directions. The though that looking to Africa for inspiration was the only option were being pressured into their heads as well as pressures from other individuals who believed drawing from American culture was the only way to be seen differently, as a culture, in the United States. Some artists, such as Aaron Douglas, captured the feeling of Africa in their work because they wanted to show their ancestry through art. Others, like Archibald J. Motley Jr., obtained their inspiration from the surroundings in which they lived in; where jazz was at the fo…


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