The Digital Diaspora: Celebrating Creative NFT Works of Black Artists

The Digital Diaspora event, hosted by Samsung 837, took place this year June 19th, also known as Juneteenth which is one of the most culturally significant days in the American calendar.  The event was put in place to highlight some of the creative work coming out from within the black community within the NFT sector.

The curator of the event was 18-year-old visual artist and curator Diana Sinclair.  

Diana, a New York resident, has been exploring experimental video art and multimedia layering since being selected as a YoungArts National Finalist in Photography in 2021.  She has displayed her artwork in numerous galleries worldwide and has more recently moved her artwork into the NFT sector as well.  She became one of the youngest curators within the NFT space when she solely curated The Digital Diaspora.  Diana has also been selected for  Fortune’s “NFTy 50: The 50 most influential people in NFTs” list and was chosen as a featured artist in TIME’s first NFT collection.  Most recently Diana has completed 4 NFT artworks to be sold in order to raise money for the Whitney E. Houston foundation.

Diana was first encouraged by her partner to get into NFTs shortly after her 16th birthday back in February 2022.  However, despite being a super talented artist she was somewhat hesitant to get into the scene and preferred to take a backseat while her partner was going NFT crazy.  Diana cites this as the reason for not entering the NFT scene back then:

“At this time, I was fairly interested in getting started, but I was also pretty discouraged by the lack of other Black women and photographers on the blockchain. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to invest in minting NFTs and risk not doing well … Then Itzel Yard (aka IX SHELLS), after seeing that we’re both from Barbados and Panama, wrote to me like, “I love your work. I think it would do so well [in the crypto art market]. There aren’t enough Panamanians and Bajans and I want to see you try this.”

And then Diana’s work within the NFT sector started and developed from there.  It took her a while to mint her first NFT but she continued to follow the advice of IX SHELLS and built up a community, focussing her efforts on building up and bringing more black women into the community.  Virtual talks were hosted during this time during the week for black women photographers and eventually about 20 black female photographers were on board and the community grew from there.  

The curator of The Digital Diaspora was keen to provide a platform centred around black crypto artwork as she saw a lack of equity in the space and had this to say on the matter in a recent interview with The Observer:

“ All I could think about was how, even though there were already so many Black people in the NFT space, putting so much work into creating Black equity, they weren’t receiving the same opportunities, visibility, or support. Often in the NFT community, people will argue that since the space is decentralized there aren’t any hierarchies or that the space isn’t white male-dominated. But who has the money to place the bids? Who’s curating the shows? Who is in charge of the platforms? 

But, through this project, we’ve actually been able to meet people in the tech industry who have been very open to helping combat the inequity I’ve encountered in the space. They helped us develop a project that was way bigger than anything we could have imagined back in March when we first started talking.”

Right now, work from the black community is growing within the NFT scene and with people like Diana Sinclair and Kojo Marfo, a London-based Ghanian artist, things can only grow further.  

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