‘Who Owns Black Art?’: A Question Resounds at Art Basel Miami

“Ultimately, you would want your work to have a home with someone who understands where the work came from and what pain and concepts brought it about,” she said.

Ed Maximus, 33, a visual artist based in New Jersey, is showing a photograph of four nude black women weaving their bodies together at “Who Owns Black Art?” The picture represents the women owning their bodies and creating space to support each other, he said. In a way, black artists are doing the same thing, he added.

Ashlee Thomas, the president of the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience, an arts production company, said, “The best thing we can do as black people owning our culture: build the platforms ourselves.”

That has been happening. Sugarcane Magazine, started in 2006, covers art from the African diaspora, and publishes a guide to black art fairs taking place around the same time as Art Basel. Art Africa Miami, a fair showcasing artists of African descent that runs during Art Basel, began in 2011. Prizm Art Fair, which features the works of artists from the African diaspora, is in its seventh year. Some black art enthusiasts view these endeavors as a way to build an ecosystem that is beneficial to black artists and black consumers. They provide an entry point for people to learn about works and building a market for the artists, said Mikhaile Solomon, the founder and director of Prizm.

“You create an experience around them and a narrative around them that creates value,” Ms. Solomon said of black artworks. “And you encourage people to participate in that.”

Storm Ascher, 25, started Superposition Gallery last year after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York with a degree in visual critical studies. Her traveling gallery, which has produced seven shows, grew in part out of discussions that she and her friends were having about the challenges of breaking into the industry as people of color. They talked about the difficulty of getting residencies, gallery representation and curating opportunities. And they figured, why wait around for others to bet on them when they could bet on themselves, said Ms. Ascher, who is also exhibiting at “Who Owns Black Art?”

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