Reckoning with Racism and White Supremacism
M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery at Seattle Central College 1701 Broadway, 2BE2116 Seattle, WA 98122; 206-934-4379
Hours: 10am–2pm, Monday–Thursday, admission is free
Christina Reed addresses racism head on in her immersive exhibition “Reckoning” at the M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery at the Seattle Central College.
The exhibition consists of three parts. The first is Reflection, a wall filled with large black and white prints based on historical photographs of white people: juries, businessmen, families, picket fences, interspersed with the words of the declaration of independence, maps of redlining. The white people are passive, but collectively they create a wall of oblivious privilege. Interspersed with the images are repeated quotes from the declaration of independence underscoring the racism of the white founders as they wrote of equality even as slavery was perpetuated and black people denied all rights.
The artist added a round mirror every few feet in the mural. We can see our own white faces as part of the white racist gaze, or for a visitor of color, feel the insistence of this wall of privileged exclusion.
We turn from this immersion in whiteness to the second part of the installation, Regard: White Gaze. Thick glass squares hanging from the ceiling painted with blue eyes gaze directly at us. A literal white gaze, the hanging pieces of glass feel claustrophobic as we approach them, suggesting the feeling of being watched, judged, monitored, and even threatened simply by the act of looking. It is very difficult to walk through this intense forest of glass panes, another wall of privilege, so we walk around it.
The third part of the installation Repair suggests actions to counter racism. There is going to be a closing on February 17 from 5–7 pm (hopefully) in which people wear signs that have references to various aspects of ways to counter racism. On one side of the sign is an oblique reference. You have to turn the sign over in order to know what it means. In other words, you have to do more than look at the sign. Then once you turn it over a wide range of possible ways forward are offered some educational, some personal, some joining with others. They include references to the 1619 project, a history of slavery and the roots of racism. Another explains red lining, a third “12 out of 18” lists the 12 Presidents out of the first 18 who owned slaves. Other actions suggest observing microaggressions, euphemisms. And of course, speaking to our elected representatives about racism and supporting diverse cultural organizations. Revolution is not included but volunteering on projects related to the Criminal Justice System is one of the more specific community actions.
Christina Reed received support for this project and did much of her research at the historic home and library of the James and Janie Washington Cultural Center 1816 26th Ave in the Central District. If you want to know more about this important artist, come to the unveiling of a bronze statue of Dr. James W. Washington and the restored “Fountain of Triumph” Washington’s last public monument. The “Fountain,” formerly located on 23rd Ave, addresses salmon migration as a metaphor of the difficulties of survival for African Americans. The Event will be at 24th and Union part of the newly built Midtown Center, February 26, 2022, 6:30–8:30pm. Call the Washington Foundation for Information 206-709-4241.
Other exciting exhibitions:
Lauren Iida’s Citizen’s Indefinite Leave at Art Exchange Gallery, Tuesday-Saturday 11am–5:30pm, until February 19.
Iida bases this series of her extraordinary paper cut out art on her grandmother’s experience during World War II.
Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time at the Asian Art Museum, until July 10.
The first exhibition by the newly hired curator of South Asian art Natalia Di Pietrantonio, who oddly is not South Asian, but I will say that she definitely knows the field. The exhibition includes 16 artists in a wide range of media as well as stunning early miniatures. Most of it focuses on the female body and the rich Goddess traditions of India. More soon!
Nancy Holt: Between Heaven and Earth at Western Washington University Art Gallery, Bellingham, 10am–4pm Monday–Friday and 12pm–4pm Saturday, until May 7.
I am quoting from their description as I haven’t seen it yet: “the trans-disciplinary exhibition addresses not just the complexities of her artwork but her interests in sciences, from geology, biology, ecology, surveying technology to astronomy.” Western Washington University owns one of Holt’s works “Stone Enclosures: Rock Rings” as part of their exceptional collection of public art on the campus. This is probably the most major exhibition in the Northwest this spring. Make the trip!
~Susan Platt, PhD