The Square Box
It seems now more than ever that we see a rise in art campaigns, exhibitions, or performances highlighting gender, ethnicity, and artists hailing from other minority groups. Historically white, straight males have been in positions of notoriety and recognition. This phenomenon extends far beyond the creative space into every professional industry across the globe. Minorities standing in unity and working as a community to lift each other up has historically been the path forward. Communities bound together by commonalities and shared experiences help us to overcome challenges and ward off threats we may face due to our differences amongst mainstream power players.
In the wake of the #metoo movement and frankly, everything within the mixed bag of the 2016 election cycle that has been thrown at American society, has aroused a flame within us. That flame has now grown into a wildfire tearing through any obstacle in sight. The daily torment of news headlines and statistics that in 2018:
“women in the United States make $0.80 on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research. That gap is wider for black and Hispanic women, who earn 62.5% and 54.4%, respectively” - Time Magazine.
As the movement for equality has weaved its way into trending hashtags, corporations have quickly caught onto the marketability and the power of endorsing such campaigns. Many people will argue that despite intentions of self-interest, it is a lesser evil to have billion dollar businesses behind you. Sure, it is certainly a means to an end in the greater agenda to move the progressive needle. However, what happens when that mentality of marketing and branding trickles down into our smaller communities? We have already seen the rise in female-led and female only art shows. In popular art publications, we are quick to highlight diverse ethnicity as a way to sell an artists story.
So the question arises- in our efforts to demonstrate that our differences of race, gender, or sexual orientation have no bearing on our abilities, have we now painted ourselves into a small square box? Let us be clear diversity in background and culture should be celebrated. However, our calls for equality are being answered with labels and insincere billboards of inclusion. Rather than “Female Artist” why not just “artist” Rather than (insert country of origin) painter, why not just “painter?”
As we strive for progress inequality we are now faced with navigating new headwinds. Breaking free from labels and the dreaded square box.
Words Aileen Farshi