Mildred Howard debuts new NFT collection centered on Black youth

Howard said the series was created in honor of Black History Month and depicts the silhouettes of Black youth.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Internationally acclaimed artist and designer Mildred Howard debuted her first NFT Collection -- "Millennials & XYZ" -- on OpenSea. 

The collection, supported by Decrypt Studios, dropped on February 28 and will be available through March 7. 

The series, created in honor of Black History Month, depicts the silhouettes of Black youth. Howard told ZDNet that she is the daughter of civil rights activists and began work on the collection five years ago following the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. 

She wanted to sit down and speak with young Black people about their experiences and how they are affected by the daily tragedies that continue to happen to Black people across the world. 

"I wanted to talk with these young people about their lives, to capture them in the way they look and dress, to hear their opinion about what life was like for them," Howard said. 

"Most of the young people I spoke with were brilliant human beings trying to navigate their way through this maze and society that we live in today. They happened to be people of color; but there is only one race -- the human race."

The Berkeley, California native said she was excited to work with NFTs after working in a variety of mediums throughout her lengthy art career. 

Alanna Roazzi-Laforet, founder of Decrypt Studios, called Howard a "fierce pioneer and a champion for innovation and human rights," adding that her images are "timeless and are fitting for the web 3 world" as well as "a world where one can create new storytelling threads that champion the human spirit and equality." 


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Mildred Howard

Howard explained that NFTs offer a new way of looking at art and a new way of addressing issues like social justice to a broader community. 

"As an artist, you're continuously trying to learn and improve what you do. I am constantly exploring new avenues that help in my growth as an artist. It's an ongoing exploration of ideas and creative ways of thinking, making, and doing. I'm interested in pushing the boundaries. In some ways, doing this is like being part of history as it happens," Howard said.

"In the past, certain voices, like Black voices, didn't get written into the historical record. NFTs present a new chance to include Black voices from the very beginning, and we have to do that. I've done both 2D and 3D sculptural works. To me, it's similar -- another way of looking at art and exploring all those possibilities, and also exploring what you don't know."

Howard told ZDNet that NFTs have added a new dimension to the art market and noted that as someone in the art business, she is willing to explore any new medium. 

NFTs are also a way for her to reach different audiences and get a different population of people looking at her work, she said. 

"I feel it's only natural to explore this. I'm excited about the whole thing and seeing who's interested. I'd like to see a lot of younger people who are interested in collecting art -- offer them a new way to find art. This is to reach the new art community and also, I'd like to be in the forefront of the art collectors of today and hear what their thoughts are about it," Howard said.  

"This is the first time I have released NFT art, and I'm excited to join this new community. I hope this is the beginning of a conversation with a whole new group of people I want to share my ideas with -- what I've learned from my life and what I hope younger generations will benefit from!"

Howard has a solo exhibition with the Turner Carroll Gallery opening on May 6 and a panel discussion will be held at the New Mexico Museum of Art the weekend of May 27. 

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