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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Why representation in art is important

How Arthur Haywood uses art to create change

In 2020, St. Joe’s partnered with Global Philadelphia Association to design an art mural on campus to raise awareness for quality education, which is the fourth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Arthur Haywood, an artist of color who was selected to paint the mural, felt drawn to the project. The mural’s focus is on creating excitement around reading, connecting with people and raising literacy rates.

Like the mural that will be installed on the wall of Post Learning Commons, all forms of art have so many purposes — from telling stories to sharing culture to healing. These purposes are amplified even more for artists of color.

Oftentimes in our society, the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) are never heard. Art creates a space where their perspective is able to be seen. Giving opportunities to BIPOC artists allows us all to benefit from their point of view and their work.

The U.S. has and continues to promote Eurocentric standards of beauty. It’s liberating to see how BIPOC artists do not cater to that. BIPOC representation in art shatters the notion that the white perspective is the standard, instead displaying diverse ranges of beauty, life and culture.

For centuries, art has served as a tool for people of color to share their culture and their experiences in times when BIPOC were not able to do so in other ways.

Having this representation brings forth a new sense of authenticity to art. People of color deserve to have their voices heard, and to discount their voices is damaging to art as a whole.

People of color are not the only people who benefit from representation in art. Art can connect to people so deeply and say things that words cannot. Having art that is representative of the multitudes of cultures creates a new medium for white people to understand communities of color on a deeper level.

Art is so impactful and is capable of making change. Our country has so many wounds that have not healed.

Art is a medium that can create a space for difficult conversations that need to be had, and this is exactly what Haywood is doing.

Many of the United Nations’ SDGs are created to solve problems that are rooted in systemic racism. These murals will highlight such important topics and compel people to have these uncomfortable conversations that are absolutely necessary. These conversations are the first steps toward change, growth and progress.

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