Brad Cushman, the gallery director at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center for Art and Design, has curated an online exhibition of works from the university’s permanent collection representing the many voices we should be listening to in our deeply divided time. Here’s what Cushman writes about “Being Seen: Power Through Diversity”:
We as individuals are more alike than not, yet cultural and community silos keep many people separate and isolated. Today’s technology and infotainment systems celebrate inclusion and at the same time further divide us.
There are racial and cultural divisions in our world that fuel the fear and hatred of others. Instead of promoting xenophobia, Being Seen: Power Through Diversity promotes learning about and celebrating cultural differences, to overcome the barriers that causes us to demonizing others.
Sixty-six works from two collections housed at UA Little Rock make up this virtual exhibition. A concentrated effort has been made to diversify the UA Little Rock Permanent Art Collection by expanding the voices represented to include more Women, Black, Latin X, LGBTQ, Western and South East Asia, and African artists. The J. W. Wiggins Native American Collection is a vast representation of the indigenous artists working in North America.
Artists are addressing systemic racism and institutional and community biases. They acknowledge the pain and suffering of marginalized people. In a time of unrest there is urgency in their messaging, a call to dismantle pervasive racial, gender and identity disparities, inequities, and injustices requiring persistent and immediate actions.
To be seen, to be included, to see a reflection of ones self is powerful and empowering. Meditate on an image. Engage with a composition; investigate the signs and symbols represented. Research an artist and learn about their studio practice. This is when we use technology in our favor.
The exhibition includes works by some of the most intriguing contemporary talents who have lived and worked in Arkansas — Ariston Jacks, Delita Martin, David Clemons, Thom Hall and Katherine Strause — as well as the important painting created in Arkansas by Joe Jones for Commonwealth College (installed at UA Little Rock Downtown) and Native American/First Peoples artworks from the terrific collection assembled by J.W. Wiggins. The virtual show can be seen through May 11.