The amount of people you encounter in your lifetime is immeasurable. It's easy to get lost in our phones and avoid genuine conversations with people as we pass by. We often don't stop to think about how their lives may differ from ours, altering certain privileges they are allowed to have. These differences become the constructed categories that deeply impact our society: classism, racism, sexism, etc. We are a society built on cultural hegemonies that often hinder us from asking why exactly things are the way they are.The people that do ask the questions can exist as teachers,activists, journalists and even artists. In a recent trip to the Tacoma Art Museum(TAM) to explore the exhibit called 30 Americans, the space was full of art where the artists disrupted the status quo and asked these questions.
The carpet you see on the left had a story behind it. At first glance, some may wonder how dirty carpet has a story or aesthetic worth showcasing in an art exhibit. Some may judge the owner behind these stains and question why they allowed the floor to become this. The artist, Rodney McMillian, was very content with the message he had behind the art piece. McMillian notes he found the carpet rolled up on a roadside. The stains, for the artist or even a guest to the museum, may mark a cultural implication that shaped the way this person lived and that maybe this filth was not their choice, but rather a product of their circumstances. Sometimes, I realized, art should not be seen for it's beauty but rather for it's power.
Another art piece that stood out to me was this picture to the right that showcases a boy with a scar that resembles the famous Nike logo. This image was taken by Hank Willis Thomas, a photographer that has more pictures that deal with enslavement through corporation. This picture is an image that is replete with the concept of how we brand ourselves and how this affects the power of capitalism, our levels of consumerism and the philosophy around what we consider valuable. The potent mentality of buying off of impulse leaves a mark that goes deeper than skin surface. It has psychological impacts that is generational and often goes untreated: this is an addiction.It is an addiction that has visible consequences on our finances. We often chase trends blindly. The act of unconsciously branding runs like a tumor in our society. My takeaway from this is that consumerism has left us starving.
The painting on the left is another painting I knew was full of underlying messages that the artist, Wangechi Mutu, wanted to be caught with more than just one glance. Looking back at the image now that I'm writing about it, I notice the snake and I think about snakes usually have negative connotation behind them. Long before J.Cole rapped about the Land Of The Snakes, there was the story of Adam and Eve. Snakes are known as evil and this unsatisfactory image of them has existed for centuries. Mutu's message became clear after reading the description. In her description she said, and I quote,"Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body". The woman's body in this painting has been made malleable to absorb and wear all that society makes her out to be. Women are often the subject of intense misogyny in music and incessant beauty standards. The objection of us has become normalized. To wear the good and bad. Society paints us whether they know it or not. Whether we know it or not.