the few Black artists who are able to penetrate this barrier are putting forth some of the finest works of contemporary art on the market. Black Enterprise recently interviewed one of the names at the forefront of this movement: Charly Palmer. Based in Atlanta but born in Lafayette, Alabama, Parker attended the American Academy of Art and School of the Art Institute. He also ran a successful design studio with Fortune 500 clientele and also taught classes at Spelman College.
When asked what drew him to art, Palmer’s response is simple: “I don’t think I had any other choice. I believe this is what I was supposed to be doing.” As a person fascinated by the African-American experience, art enabled him to express his ideas and thoughts in color. However, his definition of what Black art is may be a surprise to novices to the art world.
“Saying this may be controversial, but black art is the soul of folk—black folk. It is soulful art, for us and by us, when it is honest. I say honest because that’s important. You can look at an artist’s work and tell when it’s genuine and from a soulful place, opposed to black art produced solely to make a living,” he says. However, even though the mainstream is beginning to recognize Black art, Palmer believes that they don’t see Black art as he does. By nature, the art industry is perceiving Black art as commerce, but even with a branding and monetizing mindset, many Black artists who keep that core soul to their work are being recognized with money.
Palmer adds that part of the reason that collectors should begin to invest in Black art is not just because of financial investment, but also due to social and historical investment, in his case, because he paints the past. “When buying, they should also understand there is a chance for financial growth if a new artist becomes great because the work will only increase in value over time; especially if they buy early,” he adds.
This is especially important when it comes to discussing African-Americans collecting Black art. Many of the trends now are steering towards pride in the past and stories of Black people, which Palmer says is good for him, as “stories of black love, family, triumphs, victories, and our struggles” are many of the subjects he covers in his art. As for the future? Parker says for people to expect “a continuance of blackness.”