Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

John Zarobell


This thesis examines the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on the art community in the United States and the evolution of representation for Contemporary African artists. By analyzing the careers and artistic contributions of Omar Ba, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the study explores the concept of artistic agency according to which African artists have more control over the production and distribution of their works.

The research begins with a comprehensive literature review, investigating the historical contexts that have shaped the art landscape, including the impact of colonization, decolonization, and globalization. The study reveals how these artists, historically marginalized in major art centers, have found new opportunities due to the changing social climate.

The current shift in the global art community is notably visible in the increasing number of exhibitions and acquisitions of African artists' works by major cultural institutions in the United States. It represents a significant moment in the history of art, signaling a future where African artists are celebrated for their unique perspectives and contributions. This research suggests a reversal of cultural imperialism through new, equitable practices between artists, galleries and museums.