The Democratic Cup…/bell-hooks-and-sojourner…

It is said that the two things one doesn’t bring up at the dinner table is religion and politics. I believe this is a theory developed after many meals cut short by opposing parties arguing their points. Avoiding unpleasant discussions is just one way to enjoy a peaceful meal. I often consider how one could take the fear of having difficult interactions and confront it by considering ways to engage with others in a way that can be fruitful for everyone involved.

As a person of color working in clay I often find myself at a theoretical table, wanting to have difficult conversations, discussions that seem like important and obvious issues to tackle but to others it is not the first thing they want to discuss; concerns like the lack of racial diversity within the visual arts is not the first priority for my white friends. Not because they don’t care but because it is not their own personal experience. I do find that they are very supportive of my work, my message and of my progress. In my experience I have found that this support comes from their ability to find an experience they have had in order to try to understand where my questions come from.I have found it difficult during our current election to praise a specific candidate because this endorsement also communicates that you support everything this candidate has done or what they stand for—I would argue that this is the equivalent of bringing up religion to the dinner table. I often think about whether we could focus the conversation on issues that we find important. To not only share our discontent but also what we are about; I decided to participate in The Democratic Cup.

This group of artist represents a diverse perspective on the many issues that we consider when electing a candidates. When someone purchases one of these cups they are decided that not only can we bring up politics at the dinner table but that we can engage with it in a way that allows us as users to ponder the works implications at a time of our day that we are likely to receive information.

As an artist of color I am thankful for the opportunity to engage in this community. One who values my contribution and who invites me to participate in discussions that are not my own personal experience. I chose to include to black female activist (bell hooks and Sojourner Truth) who embody characteristics that I aspire to personify: Fearlessness, and empathy. I ask for your support with this project as it is a great opportunity to welcome relevant material into your home but also it has a direct financial impact to the community that it represents.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. These are excellent.
    The discussion reminds me of the odd remarks I’ve heard from some in art academia that artists shouldn’t make art that comments on the experiences of other groups or demographics, and that art should only about your personal experience directly.
    I think that’s absurd and repressive.
    One of the mostvimportant qualities in people is empathy. If empathy can’t be employed in our work, just because we aren’t part of a particular group of other humans, I think we’re really missing an opportunity for discussion and growth as humans.
    There is certainly valid concern for exploitation and appropriation, but that shouldn’t prevent artists from connecting the experience of others to the eyes of those who would otherwise ignore suffering.
    Steinbeck wasn’t an Oakey when he
    wrote The Grapes of Wrath, and Springsteen isn’t black although “41 shots” delivers a moving message to his largely white audience , a demographic that needs to hear the message probably more than anyone.

    1. Very True Mike. You are very eloquent.

  2. Thank you, Roberto. I want to add , just to be clear, that I’m in total agreement with your first point, and I was hoping to point out that if underrepresented groups aren’t welcomed into the visual arts and non-minority artists are discouraged from attempting conscious and empathetic work as advocates of those groups, then their experience and struggles are doubly silenced.

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