Racism in the Art World

Racism exists in all areas of the art world, it is experienced in museums, in art history, art school, art education, professional art industries and more. This video is a discussion which recognizes racism in visual arts and offers some ways how we as artists can work towards a more equitable field.

Stories from their personal experiences and public events that involve racism are explained by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Jordan McCracken-Foster and Alex Rowe.

Video Walkthrough

  • Jordan’s experience with a professor at art school who did not know that the inside of a black person’s hands are lighter than their skin tone.
  • Prof Lieu’s experience at a faculty meeting where a professor wanted to know “why the Asian girls are so quiet.”
  • An art school peer of Jordan’s who made a comment about dark values in Jordan’s drawing in relation to the color of his skin.
  • Prof Lieu tried to propose an elective at an art school multiple times to explore personal narratives involving race, gender identity, etc. only to be told that those topics were already being taught in 2 other courses….that were taught by 2 white men who were over the age of 65.
  • Since Black Lives Matter, many teachers in art teacher Facebook groups are now asking for “lists of BIPOC artists.”
  • With online resources, it’s not difficult to find BIPOC artists, like this Artsy article by writer Isis Davis-Marks.
  • If you want to help with representation, start by listening.
  • Think about how you can help an artist: something as simple as purchasing their artwork can be very meaningful and a way to show your support.
  • Racism isn’t easy to talk about, it’s a tough subject, but it’s a very important one.
  • Due to Black Lives Matter, many art schools, museums, and arts organizations are doing a lot of “window dressing,” in order to show their commitment to equity, but is it actually having any meaningful impact?
  • Art history and museums have a very long way to go in terms of representation; many are woefully behind, out of touch and not up to date.
  • Tubes of pink paint in the past have been labeled “flesh.”
  • Microaggressions can be just as harmful as blatant racist attacks.

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