Arts & Culture

CSREA kicks off with exhibit featuring artists of color

“The Body As Site Of” displays artwork intended to convey a variety of unique experiences

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As artists continue to grapple with issues of race and identity, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America opened the 2017-18 academic year with the exhibit “The Body As Site Of,” which displays the artwork of four contemporary artists of color — Akujixxv, Devyn Galindo, Panteha Abareshi and Carolina Hicks.

The curator of the exhibition, Brigitte Santana, a public humanities master’s student at the University, talked about the lack of diversity in the art world at the exhibit’s opening Wednesday evening. Museum collections and exhibitions often reflect the priorities of mainstream institutions, and artwork is selected by people who do not reflect the demographics of their society, she said.

This exhibit aims to highlight artwork by people of color and convey a variety of experiences, Santana said.  It is important for artists to see themselves represented in museums, she added.

“What is it like to be a Latinx confronting political issues in Los Angeles? What is it like to simultaneously fight against sickle cell zero beta thalassemia and oppressive ideas of intimacy and gender? What is it like to address the issues of emotional and mental wellbeing as a Colombian American in the west coast or as a Jamaican American in the east coast?” Santana asked, referring to the different experiences of the displayed artists.

One of the attendees of the event, Samuel Ortiz, a staff member at the Office of Residential Life, said that he came to support art work by people of color. The artwork is “beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking,” he added.

Manager of the Programs and Outreach at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice Maiyah Gamble Rivers  said that she was moved by the purity of the artwork, which reminds her of an intimate diary or sketchbook.

“Despite the disparity in our institutions at large, this exhibition reminds us some of the promises of art, including being able to connect with experiences unlike our own,” Santana said.

Tricia Rose AM’87 PhD’93 P’14, associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives, professor of Africana studies and director of CSREA, thanked everyone for attending the event because the center “is not a private think tank. It is a campus and public resource to build … community on race and ethnicity.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article featured a photo of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at 94 Waterman St., not the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, which is at 96 Waterman St. The Herald regrets the error.

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