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Race Stories: Reflections by ABA

The Association of Black Artists’ Reflections on Maurice Berger’s Race Stories

Through July and August of 2020, the CADVC collaborated with the UMBC student-organization, the Association of Black Artists (ABA), to further discussion on Maurice Berger’s Race Stories articles. In their responses, members of ABA reflected on topics such as artist intentionality and curatorial intent, society’s stereotypical definition of beauty, racial identity and one’s identity as an artist, and the education system’s role in gentrification. Here, we’ve archived their reflections and we invite you to reflect on these topics as the CADVC continues to open a dialogue about race in the fields of museum practice and visual art.


“Holding a Mirror to Race”

Graphic of the following quote from Manal's Murangi's reflection: The question of implicit bias versus racism, and whose job it is to educate is one that has plagued arts, specifically artists of color for generations. It comes down to what is the purpose of the artist? Are we supposed to create art for the benefit of the public or the benefit of ourselves; and what if the two don't happen to intersect? It seems as though there is an additional pressure on artists to tell stories and create work that is not only beautiful to them but can also inform the world on struggles, and to tell stories of strife and hardship rather than celebration and joy.
A graphic of a quote from Manal’s Murangi’s reflection

Manal Murangi, 2020-2021 ABA Vice President and cinematic artist, reflects on “Holding a Mirror to Race” and discusses artists’ intentionality when prompting viewers to reflect on their art, how curatorial intent contributes to the larger issue in the art field of curating versions of reality that uphold racism, and the role of and pressure on artists to create work that teaches viewers about history and racial inequality.

Read her full reflection here: ABA Reflection- Manal Murangi



“Framing— and Reflecting— Beauty”

Graphic of the following quote from Joshua Gray's reflection: The structure that has been put into place to determine one's beauty comes from a eurocentric value of beauty. This structure caused systems such as colorism in the black community and artificial perceptions of supremacy in the white community. Beauty then determined education, marriageability, income, housing access and accommodations, and by extension of all of these aspects of life— mortality rates.
A graphic of a quote from Joshua Gray’s reflection

Joshua Gray, 2020-2021 ABA President, Vice President of Student Organizations, and performing artist, reflects on “Framing— and Reflecting— Beauty” and deconstructs the stereotypical ideals of beauty, proposing a new definition of how we see ourselves.

Read his full reflection here: ABA Reflection- Joshua Gray



“One Drop, but Many Views on Race”

A graphic of the following quote from Kayla Massey's reflection: When it comes to my art and being in an artistic environment, I sometimes ask myself... "Am I an artist first or am I Black?". ...This answer can change depending on what artistic setting I may be in. Although I may identify myself as an artist, I am a Black woman first, and I take so much pride in that. Just as complex as it is to define what being "Black" is, it is also just as complex to define what being an artist is.
A graphic of a quote from Kayla Massey’s reflection

Kayla Massey, 2020-2021 ABA Events Coordinator and performing artist, reflects on “One Drop, but Many Views on Race” and discusses how racial identity is connected to one’s identity as an artist and what it means to her to be Black, female, and an artist.

Read her full reflection here: ABA Reflection- Kayla Massey



“On the Streets of Harlem, a Sense of Erase and Replace”

A graphic of the following quote from Justin Okpara's reflection: For one (art history) class alone, out of thirty-seven hours and thirty minutes of class time, one hour was dedicated to black artists and thirty-six hours and thirty minutes were dedicated to white artists... in our education system... Black history was and continues to be destroyed and replaced by narratives of the majority. As a result of this, we are left with several pages missing from a story that could have been complete and beautiful.
A graphic of a quote from Justin Okpara’s reflection

Justin Okpara, 2020-2021 ABA Secretary and visual artist, reflects on “On the Streets of Harlem, a Sense of Erase and Replace” and discusses the education system’s role in gentrification and deliberate disregard of Black narratives in core curriculum courses, redlining and gentrification in Baltimore, and his role as an artist to address racial issues in his work.

Read his full reflection here: ABA Reflection – Justin Okpara