Dear Creative Community,
In April, the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh (CAM Raleigh) opened an exhibition of work by artist Margaret Bowland, whose paintings incorporate, among other symbols, women and girls of color painted in white face. Ms. Bowland herself is white, and without proper context the exhibition threatens the misappropriation (or, worse, the marginalization) of Black history and culture, which is troubling for many viewers.
As a fellow City-funded arts organization, Visual Art Exchange (VAE Raleigh) agrees with CAM Raleigh that art is a powerful tool for communication. VAE Raleigh also believes this communicative power comes with significant civic responsibility. Unfortunately, CAM Raleigh has not adequately answered individual questions and concerns about the exhibition from members of the creative community. Members of that community approached VAE to give institutional voice to their questions and concerns.
VAE Raleigh believes it is essential going forward that the whole of the presenting art community (patrons, artists, and administrators) are clear on, conscious of, and communicative about the line between provocation and exploitation. We respect provocation as an effective tool for raising awareness and sparking conversations to bring about change. However, responsible, socially engaged cultural art institutes start with an intended impact and work backward from there to present art that achieves the desired ends.
To this end, we are devoting the 2018 VAE Summit to furthering these important conversations and, together, arriving at standards and values that reflect our diverse, inclusive community. Join us on July 21, 2018 as we figure out how Triangle creativity can do its best work!
VAE Staff + Board of Directors