Art News

In Celebration of Black History Month: The Visible History Project by Ashley Buttercup

In honor of Black History Month this February, Saatchi Art will be featuring four emerging artists who center their practices on elements of Black history.

In her latest series, the Visible History Project, painter Ashley Buttercup seeks to correct the glaring absence of Black history too often experienced in the American education system. Each month, she paints a portrait of an unsung Black figure from American history. Lovingly painted in bold brushstrokes, Ashley shares the stories of the likes of the first African American congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm; the first African American woman in space, Mae Jemison; and Tuskegee airman C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson. Through simple yet powerful portraits, Ashley gives these pioneers the hard-won visibility they deserve.  

Left: Ashley in her studio (Photo credit: Mark Allen); Right: “Mae Jemison” painting by Ashley Buttercup

“The Visible History Project emerged out of a necessity to re-educate myself on American history; specifically Black American History. When I was in elementary and high school, I can recall grazing over the civil rights movement and Egypt—that was the extent of learning black history I received in public school. We spent an extensive amount of time learning about the victories of white America and Europe.

After talking to many of my friends, it became evident that there was a need for an unearthing of Black American history. While I did learn a lot about black history in college, there’s still so much that me and my peers don’t know. My goal with this project is to be a catalyst for conversations, and to reeducate people on the many black individuals that we aren’t taught about in elementary and high school.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Buttercup (@ashley_buttercup3000)

I work with my cousin to print the portraits on t-shirts with the intention to continue to spread knowledge outside of the digital landscape.  There is obviously a need for more black storytelling and my hope is that my contributions can shine light on the matter.” —Ashley Buttercup

Ashley Buttercup is a Brooklyn-based painter. She earned her BA from Temple University in Philadelphia, where she studied art direction and studio art. She has exhibited her work in Japan, Philadelphia, and New York, including at the Other Art Fair. In addition to the Visible History Project, Ashley is known for her collages and her striking black and white abstract paintings, inspired by music and her family history.

Want to continue the celebration? Stay tuned for an online exhibition of artworks guest curated by Saatchi Art artist Barry Johnson in honor of Black History Month.