A Reflection on Changing Artists and Art

One of the challenges that artists face is the expectation that their work must look a certain way. If they are lucky enough to find fame while they are alive, they are often constrained by the idea that only a certain style will get them money and recognition. As much as a starving artist is romanticised, no one wants to be one. Yet, must that come at the expense of their own creative metamorphosis?

Very few artists are rewarded with the security of being admired for their full body of work. Granted, some work and styles may be better than others but that equally requires an artist to be able to explore and change their art. This is often hard to do when art viewers can tend to be lazy and simply do not look into the full depth of the work of an artist. Doing this is vital because to fully appreciate even their most popular piece of an art, you must look at their artistic journey to see how they got to that eventual point of stylistic fame, and encourage thereafter further development for potentially an even more spectacular or popular style. 

Artists do not want to be one trip ponies, but we must afford them with the chance for that to not happen. That is the least we as art consumers can do. 

To put it into action, here is a list of some artists to look out for and champion:

Tam Joseph

A Dominica-born artists who moved to London at the age of 8. Not only is his work skilfully diverse, it also draws upon many personal experiences of race relations in the UK from the education system to what security means for and against the black person. Their documentary Tam Joseph: Work in Progress demonstrates his vast work with the title fitting perfectly into the theme of this piece.

Tam Joseph, UK School Report, 1983. (C) Tam Joseph. Image ...
Evolution - Tam Joseph Paintings on artnet
Tam Joseph | Felix & Spear


Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi, ‘Bona, Charlottesville’ 2015
Zanele Muholi, ‘ID Crisis’ 2003

Born in South Africa, Muholi’s photography is dedicated to increasing the visibility of black LGBTQ+ people, especially throughout Africa. Their work doesn’t shy away from the human body, expressing it as a point of beauty which should not be stigmatised or forcefully hidden.

Zanele Muholi, ‘Aftermath’ 2004


Mickalene Thomas

An African-American artist who uses mixed media to question what beauty means when it comes to race, gender, and sexuality.

I've Been Good to Me, 2015
Trois Divas (AEIOU and sometimes Y), 2009
Left Behind 2 Again, 2014


Richard Fung

Born in Trinidad, Fung currently works in Toronto and founded the organisation Gay Asians of Toronto in 1980. His videography explores the experience of gay men and their experience with AIDS, immigration, homophobia, and racism.

Fung seaintheblood.gif


Vaginal Davis

Davis is an American performing artist, painter, composer, filmmaker, writer, and curator who now resides in Germany. She was a huge part of the Brooklyn drag scene in the 1980s and has since explored gender identity through her art.

Vaginal Davis - Judy Pace, Painting For Sale at 1stdibs
A Look Back at the Career of Vaginal Davis | Art21 Magazine
heterogeneoushomosexual: VAGINAL CREME DAVIS ...

Manvir Dobb, Arts and Culture Editor