Atlanta Collecting Collective's 10 Emerging Atlanta Artists To Discover

Atlanta Collecting Collective's 10 Emerging Atlanta Artists To Discover 

Despite what the art world and popular media would have people believe, there are serious art collectors outside of New York and Los Angeles. In truth there isn't one U.S. art market but rather several around the country. Atlanta, Ga is one of the important art ecosystems that impacts national trends. Atlanta has historically been an influential city for African-American artists and collectors. Atlanta is home to Atlanta University Center, a consortium that includes Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, both of which have trained generations of Black artists, art historians, curators and collectors. 

The Atlanta Collectors Collective (ACC) is a group of Black American men and women from Atlanta who collect art and support the visual arts in Atlanta. The group members regularly attend art exhibitions, conduct artist studio visits and disseminate information about contemporary art in their private online discussion group. BAIA asked the ACC to compile a list of 10 emerging Atlanta artists.

The artists on the ACC list create figurative and abstract works. They also work in various mediums including fiber, wood, paint, mixed media and ink. The purpose of this list is to focus on emerging Atlanta based artists who the ACC considers to be rising stars, who collectors across the country should consider investing in and supporting today. 

Here are the ACC's selections:

Lamar Bailey Is a husband, father and Atlanta native who chronicles the everyday lives and love relationships of Black Atlantans through his mixed media works. Bailey's artistic style is identifiable by his loose brush strokes that convey movement and aliveness.  Although his works are primarily figurative, the facial features of some of Lamar's subjects are more abstract depicting a subject in contemplation or one dealing with emotional distress. Bailey works with acrylic paint and frequently employs cardstock or cardboard boxes to create a surface texture that is distinct from a traditional canvas. 

Lamar is a former student of Atlanta based artist and collector George Galbreath. In early 2024, he was featured in “NEXT, An Art Exhibit featuring Lamar Bailey and Christian Alexander” hosted by SOHE Solution at Hidden Gallery at Peter Street Station. Bailey has exhibited his most recent works at ArticulateAtl, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for emerging local artists to showcase and sell their artwork. 

In 2023 he participated in several group exhibitions in Atlanta including, the “Deep Exhibition,” The West Side Cultural Center; “Rush Hour exhibition,” Rush Hour Festival;  Black Boy Art Show and “Friends Art Exhibition,” Cat Eye Creative; “The Future Dead,” Future Gallery.

Lamar Bailey is currently showing at Black Art In America Gallery

Demetri Burke creates mixed media works  employing charcoal, oil paint, and found images. His art straddles figuration and abstraction to depict narratives about Black identity and culture.  In some works the subject is a discernible Black figure while, in others, the image is less distinct as if being viewed from a hazy memory or a faded photograph. While there are symbols and visual elements that stand out to the viewer the meaning is changeable from viewer to viewer. Demetri wants to showcase underrepresented stories. He considers himself a southern artist, saying, “I draw on the experience of being southern and subtly open it up to where everybody can connect to my work…”

Demetri received a BFA, magna cum laude in Studio with a concentration in Painting and Printmaking from Georgia State University in 2020. Demetri’s debut solo exhibition in 2022  “And Then We Heard the Thunder '' was hosted at MINT Art Gallery in Atlanta. 

His work has been featured In numerous group exhibitions across the country including, “#WIP,” duo exhibition with Murjoni (2024) Cereus Art at Ki Smith Gallery, New York, NY; “In Unity, As in Division,” Johnson Lowe Gallery (2023) in Atlanta that highlighted seven emerging artists from within the Atlanta metropolitan area; “Migrating Sun I”, (2022) Elaborate Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; and “demos/desires”, Melanie Flood Projects (2021), Portland, OR.

Demetri was also featured in New American Paintings, No. 160, South Issue.

Demetri Burke can be found on Instagram at @demetri.stephan

Michael “Jiggy Korean” Coleman is known for his renderings of Black subjects that are provocative and unapologetically Black. One recurring element in his work are exaggerated lips and teeth or grills that fit over the teeth. Instead of running away from the large lips that Black people have historically been ridiculed and derided for having, Michael instead embraced them. Moreover, he frequently imbues his subject possessing the big lips and teeth with a sense of confidence and cool. Eyeglasses are also  motifs in Michael's work. He may be toying with the stereotype of nerds wearing eyeglasses to signal that his Black subject sees the world accurately and clearly. Additionally, his bespectacled person pays attention to the details and reads the fine print, which is the undoing of the majority who don't.

Michael, also known as Jiggy Korean, was born in Washington, D.C and now resides in Atlanta, Ga. He states that in 2017 he revisited his childhood interest in art in the aftermath of the end of a relationship and failure in his rap music career. Taking his cues from what he learned from Hip Hop, around 2018 he developed distinctive black and white works that he called “Dramatic Pop Art”. Michael gained a following and sold more than 100 prints of his works resulting in him being featured in numerous art exhibitions in Atlanta. His artwork is included in Atlanta’s Trap Music Museum’s collection. Michael's work has been collected by individuals, is on view at several Atlanta restaurants and in the gallery of God is Dope clothing store in Atlanta.

Michael can be found on Instagram at @Jiggykorean 

Quamaine Giles is intentional in using materials that have been discarded in the course of his daily life. His paintings express his emotions as someone who feels he has been “overlooked .”  His textured works also reflect the multi-faceted nature of human beings. In his abstract paintings, Quamaine employs not only acrylic paint but also reclaimed paper, cardboard, fabric, magazines, oil, scrap wood and sawdust to create irregularly shaped works. His practice is centered on “reuse and repurpose” as a means of exploring how to create new opportunities and second changes from what one already possesses internally and externally. The irregular shapes of his paintings emulate the imperfections of the physical world.  

In 2024 Quamaine had his debut solo exhibition, “Second Chances”, at Old Rabbit Gallery in Atlanta. The collection features mixed media works that use fragments of found objects that serve to tell the story of his life journey. In describing the message that he wants to share through the exhibition Quamaine stated: “We all have the potential to use what’s available to us to write our new stories. We just have to seek the change to ignite our rebirth.”  

Earlier this year Quamaine was featured in the group exhibition “Emergence Vol. 2” at Zucot Gallery in Atlanta, GA.

Quamaine Giles can be found on Instagram  at @quamainegiles

Kaylah Hagler is a self-taught artist whose figurative portraits are infused with bright color. In her paintings Kaylah has depicted a range of subjects including rap music artists, influential Atlanta creatives and fictional Black women who are shown celebrating their beauty and their lives. Kaylah moved from Orlando, FL to Atlanta, Ga two and one half years ago and quickly became a presence in Atlanta’s art community. She was mentored by renowned Atlanta based artist, Charly Palmer, and her work has been acquired by the Atlanta based, Galbreath Collection. Kaylah has also been featured in the Atlanta based artist interview series, Our Voices. Our Lives (Ep. 77).

In July, 2024 Kaylah's debut solo exhibition “Adult Swim” opens at Old Rabbit Gallery in Atlanta. Her body of work is described as a “Journey of growing into adulthood. Viewers are invited to confront both the challenges and opportunities that accompany growth, finding solace in the beauty of transformation.“

Kaylah had been featured in numerous group exhibitions in Atlanta including, “Emergence Vol. 2” (2024) Zucot Gallery; EmpowerHER: Celebration of Women in Art (2024); “November Nights”(2024) Hidden Gallery at Peter Street Station, which was co-curated by artist, Kevin “WAK” Williams and “Beyond Her Eyes: Unmasking the Unseen, All Women’s Group Exhibition”(2023), Hidden Galley at Peter Street Station and A Black Love Exhibition: We Need Love, African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta (2023) and “The Order Contemporary Art Show”(2022), Azjio Gallery. 

Kaylah Hagler can be found on Instagram on

Thomas Higgins is known within Atlanta's art community as “TOMDavii.” He is an illustrator who creates art with markers on toned tan paper. Thomas's lush works reflect his memories of his family and friends. He also captures the sights and scenes of Atlanta in his artwork. 

Thomas studied Illustration & Design at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

His work has been commissioned by Fulton County Public Art Program. The West Point, Ga native was also a member of a four person artist team who created a mural of Civil Rights leader Rev. James E. Orange in Atlanta's West End neighborhood. Orange moved to Atlanta, Ga from Birmingham, AL in the 1960s. Higgins has collaborated with the Atlanta Braves baseball team and Xfinity Communities to create fan gear for the Art Series. He also participated in the third edition of "Battle of The Kicks" with The Athletes Foot, where he designed a Nike Air Max model.

Thomas Higgins can be found on Instagram at @tomdavii

Cyrus Nelson's works are bursting with vibrant colors that create images that nearly leap off the canvas. He has been often quoted as saying, “I am a mixed media artist that sees my compositions as unions of textures, shapes, patterns, and colors that speak to the soul.” A recurring motif in Cyrus's work is a Black subject with an uplifted head. The image symbolizes hope, pride and faith. Cyrus depicts a range of emotions in his work from the celebratory to the somber. However, even in his more introspective works there is an optimism that brighter days lay ahead. His 2023 “Pillars” collection, a series of vertical figures with their heads raised to the sky, was instrumental in bringing his work to the attention of collectors. In Cyrus's work these tall, strong, and sturdy individuals, the pillars of Black communities, not only withstand turbulent seasons but are also critical to ushering in the next generation. 

Cyrus finds inspiration for his work in his personal relationships, travel, music and studying art.  He took the leap into becoming a full time artist during the COVID-19 pandemic after he was furloughed and later terminated from his corporate position. The gamble was worthwhile, resulting in him selling his work nationwide and internationally.

Cyrus has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Some of his has most recent exhibitions include Harlem Fine Art Week (2024) at Glass Door with The Graphite House, Atlanta, Ga; “Emergence Vol 1” (2023), Zucot Gallery, Atlanta, Ga; Black History Month Pop Up Exhibition at West Elm-Lenox (Feb 2023); “Evolution Blue” Pop Up exhibition sponsored by Starbucks (2023).

Cyrus Nelson can be found Instagram at @cyrusnelsonart

Cassandra Hickey is better known by her professional pseudonym “Honey Pierre”. Honey creates narratives using fiber, paint and mixed media. In her most recent works she has worked in yarn, using blue pigments to depict the face of her subjects. The self-described rebel says that she uses shades of blue fiber to “reclaim” Black American stories so that they are correctly presented in cultural institutions. Honey states that the African-American experience is more than slavery, Jim Crow and trauma so her practice is centered on love, unity, and family. Her own relatives often serve as her muses. 

In 2022 Honey’s solo institutional exhibition, “Bloodline" at Modern Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, highlighted four generations of her family. 

Honey is insistent that not only Black features are visible in her artwork but also the subject's facial expressions, hair textures and hair styles. Honey Pierre has been quoted as saying, ”I’m never gonna water it down. I make sure I’m conscious and intentional with every story I’m telling… You can see this is a Black woman making some greens. You can see that these are my nieces and nephews kickin’ it, my niece with her Bantu knots and patterned shirt. You can tell it’s our culture…” 

The Cleveland, OH native moved to Atlanta, Ga approximately 5 years ago to work full time as an artist after serving three years in the United States Army. Pierre was Honey’s married surname and she still uses it to credit her ex-husband who was an important supporter of her art career.  Honey has participated in over 40+ art exhibits/ art events. Her solo exhibitions include: “All Together Now” (2023), Echo Contemporary Art Gallery, Atlanta, Ga; Family Matters (2023), culminating exhibition The MINT Gallery, Leap Year artist residency program and  “Community” (2023) a multimedia installation is composed of gemstones, beads, yarn and alcohol ink in the office of Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Honey Pierre can be found on Instagram at @honeypierre_

Ato Ribeiro was born in Philadelphia, PA and spent his formative years in Accra, Ghana. His practice is centered on patternmaking, which has a long history of being a significant part of communication and storytelling within the African Diaspora. Strip weaving practices, Adinkra symbology, and African-American quilting have all been used to share cultural information. Ato uses Ghanaian Kente Cloth and African American quilts as reference for works he creates with discarded pieces of wood. He pieces the wood scraps together into geometric patterns that serve simultaneously as decipherable and coded language. Ato chose to employ discarded wood because he defines the material as emblematic of how people of African descent have been treated throughout history. 

The Morehouse graduate sees his work as building a bridge between his West African and African-American identities, saying, ‘As taught through the Adinkra symbol of Sankofa (meaning to return and retrieve it), my research mines through and honors a variety of shared and neglected histories in order to visually speak to my contemporary sense of cultural hybridity.”

Ribeiro received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2017 and his BA from Morehouse College in 2012. Ribeiro’s most recent solo exhibition was Under Her Canopy'  Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (2023). Earlier this year he was featured in Transcendent Geometries, a trio exhibition with Carrie Marill and Andy Burgess, Lisa Sette Gallery (2024), Phoenix, Arizona.

He has been awarded a number of prestigious residencies and awards, including Fountainhead Arts Fellow (2023-2024) Miami, FL; a 2022-2023 Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia Fellow (2022-2023); the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MASS MoCa Residency (2021); the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2018); the Küenstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin through the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Emerging Artist Award; the Santa Fe Art Institute (2017) and the Ox-Bow LeRoy Neiman Foundation Fellowship, Saugatuck (2017).

Ato Riberio can be found in Instagram at @ilaama99

Tim Short’s expressive figurative paintings often depict subjects of different generations. His work shows actual interactions, such as people socializing at home and playing a game of cards as well as portrayals of the living and the departed. The connective cord of his work is the message that southern community and spirituality are integral elements of one's daily life and not only trotted out on holidays and special occasions. Short’s work resonates with viewers because it prompts them to recall their own relationship with their relatives as well as times they’ve spent with extended family, including ‘play cousins”, "aunties " and uncles " who are not related by blood. 

Tim displays these themes  in the exhibition, “Reprise: For Da Folks” on view at Echo Contemporary through June 22, 2024. The first iteration “For Da Folks” was in view in 2022 at MINT Art Gallery in Atlanta, GA  as the culmination exhibition of Short’s year-long “Leap Year” artist residency. 

Short is a native of Columbus, Ga who moved to Atlanta in 2011 to attend Georgia State University where he received his BFA. Earlier this year, Short received an award at the conclusion of the “Gathered VI” exhibition held at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Additionally, in 2023 Short was featured artist in the group exhibition ‘Big Stories” at the Bo Bartlett Center at Columbus State University that included works from internationally recognized artists, Alfred Conteh, Amy Sherald and Bo Barltett. The show also traveled and exhibited at the New York Academy of Art, January 26 – March 3, 2024.

Tim Short can be found in Instagram at @culturedstruggle

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