The traditional art world, with its ivory towers and exclusive gatekeepers, has often left brilliant Black artists in the shadows. However, in a post-George Floyd world, the call for diversity and inclusion is louder than ever. Enter the Metaverse and Web3 technology – platforms that promise to democratize the art space, letting Black voices shine brighter.
Why does BLK Art Matter?
Let us ask this question to the pioneers, to those who opened the doors of the contemporary art world at the end of the 19th century -still with the stench of slavery in the air- through a vindictive expression: the dehumanized image of Blacks, which the nations with a Eurocentric discourse intended to perpetuate at all costs, went beyond the narrative of an origin of servitude and ignorance. Before those galleons came to erase our humanity, we had kingdoms, civilizations that endured for millennia, and a refined culture and art heritage as a testament to our creative spirits.

Challenges for Black Artists:
1.   Exclusion and Resistance:
In 1934, with the four-panel mural on the New York Public Library’s 135th street branch entitled Aspects of Negro Life, Aaron Douglas depicted painted figures representing the Black experience. One figure symbolized escaped enslavement, one symbolized economic hardship, and one played the saxophone, representing the new world of opportunity for African Americans from the art, music, and scholarship of the Harlem Renaissance.

The Harlem Renaissance was a torch banner movement proclaiming to the world that Black Art had been reborn from the ashes, and in spite of the efforts to quench our spirit, bodies and souls, artists were inaugurating a new era of success and excellence, that, unfortunately, has not yet – almost 100 years later- fulfilled its promise: opportunities for ALL.

The Harlem Renaissance movement started with a renewed militancy in the general struggle for civil rights, combined with the Great Migration of African American workers fleeing the racist conditions of the Jim Crow Deep South. Harlem, a neighborhood originally built as an exclusive suburb for the white middle and upper middle classes in the 19th century, the once exclusive district was abandoned by the white middle class, who moved farther north after the enormous influx of European immigrants arrived in the city... Owners and big real estate firms wanted to get rid of this burden, thus sinking the price drastically, opening the gates for Blacks to live, buy and rent in a city that had been very antagonistic towards them up to that date. Harlem became the final destination of both, African Americans who sought a better standard of living and relief from the institutionalized racism in the South, and people of African descent from racially stratified communities in the Caribbean who came to the United States hoping for a better life.

A better life that seemed (and seems) never to arrive. The Great Depression hit and, as the mainstream media usually loves to point out, it disproportionally affected the Black community, including Harlem. Since racism, the nationwide race riots and lynchings did not come to effect, society found the best way to silence any type of Black expression: economic suffocation. Fast forward 40 years later and you will find the BECC (the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition), a group of 75 Black artists, openly protesting at the doors of the Metropolitan Museum of New York at the opening of the exhibition entitled "Harlem on My Mind: Cultural Capital of Black America 1900-68", as none of the works on display belonged to a Black artist from Harlem. Can you imagine a celebration of 50 years of Hip-Hop where none of the guest artists were Black? This is what they dared to do in 1969, in the midst of the civil rights movement. In spite of the enormous contributions made by Black artists during the 70-year period covered by the exposition, they were still denied being given their due credit (i.e. monetary benefits to the creators) and acknowledgment.

Things have changed little... A study from 2019 reveals that 85.4% of the works in the collections of major museums in the United States belong to white artists. Asian artists are at 9%, Hispanic and Latino artists are at 2.8%, and the lowest group is the African American artists, which came in at 1.2%.
The tragic omission of people of color from the $64 billion arts industry has resulted in devastating sociological implications, not only for the African continent and Diaspora, but for our entire modern world. This comprehensive lack of understanding of the substantial expertise, tenets and artifacts that have facilitated modern and ancient culture has led to enormous alienation, subjugation and discrimination, fanned by hundreds of years of oppression and cultural appropriation.

2.     Hostile Environment:
The work that Black artists began with the BECC has continued for decades, but the results, as we have seen in the number of African American artists exhibited in major museums, have not yet evened out. Black artists, curators, and gallerists are working against the art world’s systemic racism and tokenism. The art world is a world largely sustained by a small group of influential, predominantly white people who have shaped art institutions. The mainstream art world fought against pioneering Black dealers, whom themselves describe the art world as a hostile environment for Black folks. Some of them managed to position their galleries as an entry point into the industry’s typically closed circuit, from which Black artists were historically excluded. Many Black artists are confirming that the majority of support for their work has been from Black institutions, other Black artists, and Black curators as well. That is why it is important for them to have positions in leadership.

However, the task is not easy. There is a system in place that makes it harder for Black communities to access positions in our industry. The reality is that getting into the art world relies on a robust network of contacts, support, time and finances, the latter being one of the biggest factors that influences success. For instance, low paid entry jobs form an obvious barrier of entry they are only viable for young people with an existing financial support system. Most curatorial positions require a PhD, but prohibitive university fees limit access to higher education only to those whose families can afford it.

Fortunately, the new digital era offers both artists and collectors an alternative path to success, but not without challenges. This lucrative industry is also a breeding ground for copyright fraud and appropriation... Yes, Web3 has come with solutions, but also with challenges. Let's look at both sides of the coin:

(Crypto) Artist, do not cripple yourself. If you are looking to enlarge your audience, you need two things: a community that supports you and a place to promote/showcase your work.

Many of the crypto artists are trying to make it in very centralized platforms, neglecting the possibilities that decentralized Web3 offers. Yes, Twitter is fine for socializing and creating a community while Instagram is slowly transforming into a marketplace where artists are struggling to sell/promote their artworks.

Here there are some common mistakes artist usually do:

  1. Giveaways for followers – Know your worth. Artworks are investments, their price should go up, never down.
  2. Promoting your art to collectors on unrelated posts or tweets – First impression is key. An inconvenient comment at the wrong moment and/or place can ruin your opportunity.
  3. Trying to sell an art piece by consistently lowering the price – You are not begging for charity, on the contrary, people should know the story behind piece’s creation and perceive your attachment to it. Increasing the value from time to time could be a good strategy.
  4. Paying for promotions – Followers are not synonymous of customers. You want fans who can highlight the value of your pieces, not an indifferent audience.

Many artists have a large community of followers but have not known how to extract value from it (man shall not live by 'likes' alone). Others, on the contrary, know how to sell the stories that each of their art pieces hide, but they are isolated in remote ‘physical’ places and the vast digital sea of technology and social networks becomes an unreachable world for them. Well, I have good news, there is a solution for both.

If you identify with the first case, Tokenomics will allow you to extract value from your community and open the door to a type of patronage that would otherwise have been impossible due to the high threshold of entry.

Blockchain-backed Authenticity & Ownership allows and ensures that artists get their due. By tokenizing your artwork on the blockchain, you can ensure its authenticity and retain rights. Additionally, every time the artwork is sold in secondary markets, you can receive royalties, a feature often absent in traditional sales.

For the ones identifying with the second case (they know how to sell their creativity, but NFTs and crypto concepts are overwhelming to grasp), Collector DAOs might be a great opportunity to explore. A Collector DAO is a type of DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) that collects, sells and issues NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). NFTs are unique digital assets that can represent art, music, games, and more on the blockchain. Collector DAOs allow people to pool their funds and collectively decide which NFTs to buy, sell or create. Collector DAOs can help emerging artists by providing them with exposure, funding and feedback. By getting their NFTs into the collections of Collector DAOs, artists can reach a wider audience, earn royalties from secondary sales, and get valuable insights from the DAO members. Some Collector DAOs also support artists by commissioning new works, sponsoring events, or offering grants. Basically, if you have talent, and you know how to sell yourself to a community eager to acquire collections of innovative and unique artists, they will make the technological migration to the Web3 world much easier for you and in your behalf.

Now let's talk about the challenges, which also exist.
As in everything, when there starts to be tangible benefits, the swindlers will also try to get a piece of the cake. Lately several artists have been affected by plagiarism of their works, i.e., they find that their works that were quietly deposited in their workshops and under lock and key, after a first exposure to the public, photos taken of their works have been minted and put on sale on NFT Marketplaces without their consent.

While some platforms are taking steps to address these issues, such as implementing verification processes and stricter copyright policies, many others are failing to provide adequate protections for artists and creators. There is a risk that Web3 platforms will become associated with theft and misappropriation rather than innovation and creativity, that is why Metaverse use cases are an excellent solution to complement your journey towards financial stability and secure recognition.


Web3 and the Metaverse could act as a transformative force for Black artists and curators, offering new avenues for exposure and success.

As I usually do, let's try to give concrete solutions to two hypothetical cases: Kenneth, an artist who has a huge collection of paintings in his studio, but can't find a gallery that wants to commit to the exhibition of his works without him giving up a high percentage of the sales, and without exhibition there are no sales, and if there are no sales,... we already know how all this ends. On the other hand, we have Michayla, an investor who has decided to bet on building her generational wealth with the works of art she has inherited from her paternal side and with other works she has been able to acquire over the years. The bad thing is that when it comes to finding potential buyers for her works, she fears that it will happen to her as it did to a fellow who had one of his most prized works stolen during an event held in his own home. Well, let us see how both can achieve their goals seamlessly through the Metaverse:


Virtual Art Galleries and Exhibitions: Kenneth can design his own virtual art gallery in the Metaverse, providing a 24/7 platform for global audiences to immerse themselves in his creations. No longer waiting for a nod from traditional galleries, he dictates how his art is displayed and accessed.

Engagement-Driven Art Spaces: Kenneth can design interactive art sessions, workshops, and discussions in the Metaverse, allowing enthusiasts and fellow artists to interact with him and his creations. This not only showcases his art but also builds a community around his vision and mission. With Art Creation Live Streams, Kenneth can broadcast his art creation process live in the Metaverse, providing a unique perspective into his artistic process and engaging with his audience in real-time.
Collaborative Virtual Exhibitions: Kenneth's art workshop can host immersive 3D exhibitions in the Metaverse, allowing art enthusiasts worldwide to experience and interact with his art in unprecedented ways. Partnering with other Black artists to curate joint virtual exhibitions, pooling resources and broadening audience reach. Collaborative Art Spaces: Kenneth can create virtual spaces in the Metaverse where artists can collaborate and create collective pieces, fostering a strong sense of community and shared creativity.
Virtual Art Classes: Kenneth can conduct interactive art classes and workshops in the Metaverse, sharing his knowledge and techniques with budding artists around the world.


The Art of Tokenization in the Metaverse Web3 platforms can transform the way Black art, cultural artifacts, or other valuable collectibles are viewed and traded. Michayla could tokenize her art collection, breaking it into fractional ownership schemes. This innovation allows many to invest in and appreciate the value of an art piece, multiplying its reach and potential.
Digital Auctions: The Future of Art Trading Imagine a grand, virtual auction house in the Metaverse dedicated to showcasing the splendor of Black art and culture. Michayla's collection could shine here. Each digital asset, whether it's a tokenized art piece or a unique NFT, is presented with dignity awaiting bidders from around the world. These auctions are not just transactions; they are events, bridging networks of like-minded collectors and investors.
The Deep Dive: Virtual Authenticity & Knowledge Building It's not just about the beauty of the art, but its story, its journey, its legacy. Interactive features in the Metaverse can allow Michayla's potential buyers to immerse themselves in the rich history and significance of each piece. Virtual reality checks could assure the authenticity, while in-depth artist interviews branched to each of the art pieces provide layers of context, making every investment a well-informed choice.
Michayla's VIP Virtual Lounge: An Asset Showcase Safety first, but with a touch of sophistication. In Michayla's Virtual Investor's Lounge, her high-value assets are displayed in an elegant, interactive gallery. Potential buyers can request exclusive access to this space, ensuring Michayla's art remains secure while still being accessible to those who truly appreciate its worth.

The journey of Black artists, like Kenneth, has been marked by resilience and brilliance, often in the face of systemic barriers. The Metaverse and Web3 technologies offer a new dawn, a realm where these artists are not only seen and heard but revered and celebrated. Kenneth's art, unchained from the shackles of traditional galleries, is set to redefine how we consume and appreciate art in the digital age.

As per curators and collectors, they have now the opportunity to take over the baton that the BECC left as an heritage. Their mission - the inclusion of Black artists within the most relevant museums worldwide- is far from being accomplished, so we must not miss this opportunity to promote our artists, create collections that will increase their value for generations and bear witness to the greatness of our creators throughout the ages.

The Harlem Renaissance artists went to great lengths so that today, you, the Black artist, could express yourself. They led a battle that has not yet been won. Don't let all that effort 100 years later come to nothing. They were robbed of their dreams by economic hardship, but today, with a global community, unity and vision, we can carve in history a new narrative of our community's destiny,... also led by you, artists.

The potential of the Metaverse in ushering a new era of inclusivity and empowerment for Black artists is real and is now. Remember, NEVER STOP DOING YOUR BEST JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE DOESN’T GIVE YOU CREDIT.

OCTOBER, 11 / 2023
Are you an artist with a passion for innovation or a collector seeking to unearth the next digital masterpiece? Discover the boundless possibilities that await you in Harlem Genesis, the ultimate Metaverse stronghold for Black creators and visionaries. Dive into a world where your art can shine, your creations can thrive, and your investments can grow.
Join us in weaving the threads of history from the Harlem Renaissance with the limitless potential of the future. If you're inspired by the transformative power of the Metaverse, I invite you to schedule a call with me today. Let's explore how JJBK Studio can help you bring your vision to life in Harlem Genesis. Together, we can create a legacy that transcends time and empowers our community to thrive.
Text author: Jimmy Jean
Photography: Midjourney AI ©JJBK studio 2023

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