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5 Contemporary Black Female Artists Using Paper and Collage in their Art Practise

Updated: Apr 19, 2023


"Feed Your Art Knowledge"

“Artists often use their medium to express identity" - Deborah Roberts

Three summers ago I went to a life drawing class to help me improve my drawing skills.

We had self directed assignments to complete at the end of every term, but every session I found myself putting down pencils and picking up papers to work with instead.

I would strip, tear, paint over, flip through magazines cutting up pages and selecting papers for the colours and textures.

Paper is a natural material that we draw, cut, mould, paint on, manipulate to 2D or 3D forms to layer our narratives.

As professional artist or hobbyist we enjoy experimenting with a wide variety of art mediums on this versatile material.

Below is a list of artists who have pushed the boundaries paper in their art practise.

Get inspired by these global Black Artists and discover how they have used paper as material and medium.


b 1969 - America

"I trust my hand. If I go into a space with a roll of paper, I can make a work, some kind of work, and feel pretty satisfied". - Kara Walker

A storytelling artist who uses paper in aspects of her work to portray nerving narratives around the subjects of politics, identity, race, gender, sexuality, violence.

Kara Walker uses large scale black paper cut-out silhouettes to convey her socially charged messages. This artist is uncompromising in her visual messages she comments on the truth of people's historical past.

Apart from the paper cut silhouettes and collage, Walker also has works of paintings, drawings, film and video media, light projections.

Late February I decided that I would go see her Installation 'Fons Americanus' unfortunately COVID-19 prevented the visit to -Turbine Hall at the Tate to see this ginormous, audacious, fearless installation.

Listen to the online Late Night segment - Tate Modern director Frances Morris in conversation with Kara Walker, about the Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker:Fons Americanus.

b 1960 - America

Is an African-American Photographer and Conceptual artist. She uses a combination of film, photography, video, drawings and photo-collage to explore themes and ideas around identity politics.

Initially she was not the subject in the photos, but to delve deeper she changed direction and became the subject in the photos.

Using text, photos and collages, with herself as the centre subject, she is able to present works that challenges the notions of race, gender, culture and identity.

Take a look through her Collage and Felt works collections to get inspiration and see how you can push the use of materials and techniques in your work.

Discover her collection of collages constructed from found images in old copies of Ebony and Jet magazines gifted to her by her grandmother. Look through the beautiful collection on her website entitled Ebony and Jet collages. The work speaks about Black women and their hair, the images make grand sculptural forms around the subject of black women's hair.

b 1962 - America

Is an African American multi media artist who fuses mixed media and collage to present figurative works based on black teenage identity and race.

Part of the artists statement states-

"My art practice takes on social commentary, critiquing perceptions of ideal beauty. Stereotypes and myths are challenged in my work; I create a dialogue between the ideas of inclusion, dignity, consumption, and subjectivity by addressing beauty in the form of the ideal woman, the Venus. By challenging Venus, my work challenges the notion of universal beauty—making room for women of color who are not included in this definition."

Roberts makes arresting collages full of colour and juxtaposed entangled bodies that leaves you questioning the significance of the images. Seek out her collage collections which concentrate on artfully placed collages young black girls that make you think about the ideas surrounding mainstream beauty. She gives agency and confidence to the collaged figures of young people.

Do you want to get a deeper understanding of her art practise - this article by Antwaun Sargent in Vice magazine is an insightful read for you.

b 1972 - Kenya

“Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body.”

is a Kenyan/American visual artist known for her other worldy abstracted collages of the black female body as well as paintings, films and performance.

Her collection of collage based works comments on the misrepresentation of black women.

Themes she works across include cultural Identity, feminine sexuality, politics and colonial history.

Wangechi uses a wide range of materials, mylar polyester film, papers, glitter, inks and magazine cut-outs sourced from a wide range of general publications including scientific ones.

The link in her name takes you to her Saatchi Gallery page where you will find images of her beautiful complex collages. The collection dated between 2004-2006 will give you a wondrous insight into her world of collage and artistic style.

Her collages depict colourful layered, galactic feminine bodies and other.

Her international exhibition reach is phenomenal. Go on and make the effort to discover more about this artist and her works, you will find her inspirational.

b 1983 - Nigeria

is a NIgerian visual artist who paints and collages in a figurative style. Her art practise is a collision of two world, Nigeria, where she was born until she left as a teenager and America where she lives.

She expresses this existence through her beautiful dense patterned paint and collage art.

Drawing on personal, historical, and political references, she combines paint, fabrics, acrylics and transferred photographic images to beautiful large scale compositions.

The artists' work is a layered essay on the cross cultural life she has lived as a diasporan artist.

You can listen to her here talk about her art practise, to get a sense of her works.


I hope this list of black female visual artist using paper and collage in their art practise opens you up to discover more about their process and art. Maybe in the near future, more likely next year 2021 after this Covid -19 affair, we get a chance to visit some of their exhibitions in person and see the art close up.

Follow the artists website trails to delve deeper into their works and discover online exhibitions they may be part of.

You will get better understanding into why certain artist incorporate narratives personal, political or historical into their work and how they use their cache of art materials and mediums to create their beautiful poignant artworks.

Feed your art you enjoy more art, appreciate local and international artists and buy art for yourself, your home and interiors.


Art and Patterns is my creative hub of original art, handmade body and home accessories.

I blog to inform you about my art practise and other black artist I have found to be inspirational.

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