I’m an art critic, so I get a lot of press releases. Over the first five years of Colored Criticism, my inbox has been flooded with messages about acquisitions, initiatives, and programs aimed at “diversity” in the arts. As our country burns with righteous anger, I received nothing. The deafening silence of the art world reverberates. The only acknowledgement of the national crisis and emotional trauma has come from organizations run by people of color. (And for reference, 88% of museum executive staff are White-non Hispanic by race/ethnicity.) Despite the rising financial value of Black art, there’s scarce support for Black lives. Silence = death, as the impassioned elders of ACT-UP taught us.
Image credit: Betye Saar always brings the heat. “Liberation of Aunt Jemima: Cocktail, 1973.” Mixed Media assemblage. Brooklyn Museum permanent collection.