|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Thursday, September 19, 2019
|Can art help champion gender and racial inequality?|
Anita Choudhrie © Charles Shearn.
by Anita Choudhrie
LONDON.- Artistic practice is a force for cultural reflection and social change. With recent revelations on the Gender Pay Gap and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, the question of female empowerment and racial inequality is significant. These problems have been present for too long and need to be addressed across all industries, but art can, and should, be the leader.
Equality, in terms of gender and race is at the forefront of my philanthropy. As founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation, my overriding aim has always been to champion overlooked sectors of society and to engender a greater tolerance of beliefs and cultures around the world. Art, even though the simple play of colour on a canvas or the contours of a structure, can be invaluable here. Whether we observe a work of art in a gallery or create our own, a story is being told and these stories have the power to educate, challenge assumptions and to open up our minds to what there is beyond our own reality.
This is incredibly significant when it comes to issues of gender equality. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 78 percent of galleries represent more men than women, despite 51 percent of visual artists being female. Within the current political landscape, women must realise their identities and potential within their work and beyond. Weve seen the recent revelations of the #MeToo campaign, bringing to light feminist issues that have been underlying for far too long and now it is time to unite and break down these barriers of inequality in every aspect of life.
My own art charity, the Stellar International Art Foundation, consequently champions artists regardless of background and features work from a vast array of individuals with diverse understandings of the world. Our exclusive events also provide necessary platforms for conversations and speeches on diversity, the latest of which saw world renowned artist Chila Kumari Burman discuss how her own artwork has been shaped by issues of Asian femininity and her own personal family history.
With a shifting political landscape and campaigns for equality across the globe, foundations and events like Stellar are valuable not only to the art world, but to wider issues on identity and cultural acceptance. By exploring topics such as sexuality, poverty, and racism, art foundations can expose cultural and social diversities, raise political issues and provoke questions. Bridges are built, barriers are broken down and we can move closer to embracing equality across the board.
Pablo Picassos Guernica, with its message of protestation, for instance, is an enduring example of how art can be used to spark debate and make a political statement. Created in response to the bombing of Guernica, it is regarded by critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.
Good art, then, can educate and create empathy, and this can lead to change. Where art thrives, freedom of expression thrives too, empowering even the most vulnerable members of society. It can instil courage of expression to those who create, as well as those who observe and appreciate, in turn engendering greater tolerance of beliefs and societies around the world.
Mrs Choudhrie is Founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation. The Foundation started as the private collection of the Choudhrie family now comprises over 600 works dating from the late 19th Century to the modern day. They believe passionately in the importance of private collecting as a way of encouraging and empowering multiculturalism and diversity.
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