The Lab

  • A Lesson in Subtle Racism

       While carving a paintbrush today, some of the lettering for 100% Natural Bristle Made in China was left at the tip of what was the backside, leading me through a spincycle of thoughts. Somewhere between Titian and Manet's paintings with black servants in the background, homonyms (made - maid),
    idioms (Made/Maid in the Shade), and our current newsworthy racial divides, I began realizing I'd been unwittingly co-oped into a certain kind of subtle, submerged racism through the art I was taught to admire.

    It's easy enough to point fingers at an art history which well documents the visual pushing behind and away of non-western figures, which are left in the background to lurk, wait and sometimes fully disappear, like in Artemisia Gentileschi's painting, Esther after Ahasuerus. But to realize, outside of myself, my painting vocabulary is essentially Caucasian and Western, never having painted other races, though "exotics" and black slaves have always appeared in backgrounds of famous western works. This is the subtle racism that I was shocked to encounter within myself. It is in not paying attention to the many possibilities (Other) - that I have unconsciously, somewhat shockingly, been contributing to a certain perpetuation of a high frequency, under-the-radar-kind of white-washing.

    Something to be more conscious of as I move forward.