I think the TV contributes to everyday society due to the fact I am a African American growing up in an all black community were I see everyday people hustle to live ghetto fabulous the biggest cars, flashy jewelry and for what just to make in the world today. Everyone has a hustle to survive today weather its cut throat or honest. In todays society its no loyalty everything is about a dollar and a gain. There’s no trust that has been going. Instead of helping each other grow everyone has there own game plan survive that the crazy part. If they all just thought about it in this TV show instead of always fighting an stealing each others members they may have achieved more and would have less stress. Same thing that’s goes on in the neighborhood I live in currently that’s why I need out when I graduate school to move on to bigger and better things so that I wont get caught up in that keep up world. I need to see what else the world has to offer my with educating myself and furthering my career. I also, have looked at Kehinde Wiley’s art work very inspiring to see a African American from New York do so well with this painting. I think they are contemporary works of art and they look youthful. They also have a great vibe of todays society with a street sense to it. We need to see more of this in our communities for everyone to enjoy them. If I am successful enough when I finish school I will come back to my community and try to organize my own company to try and educate youth and teach them honor and respect as I was taught. Just to love, care and pray more than anything. Now days teenagers have no one to look up to. I want to be that person to help with that.
How has the Empire TV show contributed to today’s society?
“What do you mean by ‘you people’? You black like me!” Cookie, Season 1 Episode 5 of Empire. This line is one of many mannerisms that the show portrays through boisterous characters like Cookie Lyon. There has been a lot of discussion about the representation of minorities through media, such as books, t.v., film, and online. Most recent there has been a divide between what is good representation, bad representation, and the line that divides the two. Many people believe that televised shows like Empire “… does nothing to advance the perception of blacks or alter how [they] are viewed by [non people of color] across the world.” While a small few believe that “No one cares about [an] over analytical take on Empire.” Thus, continuing the black and white stance. But, how does a show like Empire bring out people’s opposing viewpoints? Well, there are many reasons and explanations. To begin, let’s start with when show aired.
“A month prior to the premiere episode of ‘Empire’, protests against police brutality and racial profiling were active in nearly every major city in North America.” claims Laina Dawes, writer at AlterNet. This is very true. Since 2013 there has been numerous protests and rallies following the unfortunate deaths of poc in the grip of police brutality. Also, there has been movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that campaign against violence and systematic racism towards black people. “Political pundits, journalists and even a few celebrities critiqued the public perception of African Americans and urged people to look beyond media portrayals that present [poc] as one dimensional … “ Like I had said before, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of the portrayal of minorities in media. While there are average people who may have a standpoint on this topic there are also a lot of celebrities who “claim” to have a standpoint, but don’t use their platforms to bring awareness to the situation … I digress.
Now, let’s take a look at where it’s airing. “The executives at FOX knew exactly how to capture the attention of of most [poc] viewers, and it worked with flying colors … This IS FOX, a mainstream channel after all.” claims anonymous, blogger for Classy Black Lady. FOX is a broadcast station that is infamous for being one of many stations that let’s their bias and corporate higher levels manipulate what is, well, broadcasted. While claiming to be ‘fair and balanced’, there is a cynical concept in place. By saying one thing while behaving clearly and completely opposite of the stated goal, they have been able to undermine even the notion of facts, and have burned cynicism into many people’s notion of media. Yet, even this does not deter millions of viewers seasonally. Why? It’s because a show like Empire is centered around the entertainment industry it appeals to a wider audience than other poc centered shows such as “Scandal” or “How To Get Away With Murder”. “While the show’s glossiness is alluring [the first episode produced around 9.9 million viewers], it’s also filled with badly written dialogue and ham fisted racial and sexual stereotypes.” This brings me to my next point.
Empire centers around “ … Lyon, the former drug dealer who is now CEO of Empire Entertainment, and his wife, Cookie, who has just come home after serving 17 years in prison and wants her stake in the booming business she helped start. In the center of the power struggle between the former lovers are their three sons, Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem. The three sons are all battling for their father’s respect and his company, oblivious to the fact that Lucious has been diagnosed with ALS and given three years to live.” While Empire caters to some people’s need to see drama and conflict there are some instances in the show where said drama and conflict comes off as misdirected. An example of this would be Cookie Lyon’s relationship between her three sons. Throughout the show, Cookie not only pits her sons against one another, constantly taunt Jamal because of his sexuality, but it’s also shown (through flashbacks) that she used to protect their “sensitivity” before she went to jail. Lee Daniels, show director of Empire, suggests that it was necessary to show how deeply ingrained homophobia is in within black communities. “What we’re really trying to do … is give people an opportunity to see what they’re doing is painful,” said Daniels at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January of 2015. The problem with this statement being that homophobia is a problem within many ethnic (and non ethnic) communities. Understanding that this is a poc centered show and that you shouldn’t force your opinion on anyone, homophobia isn’t just a problem within the black community. You can claim that it is strongly held within the community, but it’s not the only community with this problem.
In conclusion, I agree that “Empire doesn’t try to be the defining portrayal of of black people … [and that] black art and entertainment shouldn’t exist solely to promote the most spotless representations of black people.” Empire is one of those shows where despite being “pervasive”, “melodramatic”, “embarrassing”, amongst other things, there will always be another season and more people there to view it. It’s one of those shows where no matter the decade it will always be a certain amount of truth underneath all of the “glossiness”. Whether the truth lies within the show or it’s viewers depends on your viewpoint. In this case, the truth is no form of anything is pristine, especially not art. Empire has contributed to society by being a show that opens people to an idea (that has been done before) that contributes to them being able to conjure thoughts and concepts about what is truly important and what impact they have on others.
An Economy of Grace, Kehinde Wiley’s debut exhibition at Sean Kelly gallery, marked his first ever series dedicated to female subjects. For the past decade or so, Kehinde Wiley has been making evocative, questioning and powerful portraits of men of color from around the world. Beginning with portraits of young African American men from New York City and growing into an ongoing series known as “The World Stage,” featuring men from China, Dakar, Lagos, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka and Israel. The same formula he used in those paintings he uses again in “An Economy of Grace” — photorealist portraiture of models in classical, art-historical poses, set against decorative and colorful backdrops. The defining difference here comes in his choice of subject, all African American women from New York City. Other than that, very little has changed. Should it?
Wiley himself emphasizes the never-ending tension in the paintings between their male and female aspects. “It’s about a figure in the landscape,” he said of his output, adding that the backdrops symbolize the land. “For me the landscape is the irrational. Nature is the woman. Nature is the black, the brown, the other.” He added, “That’s the logic behind it, but everyone has their own sort of reading.”
At a glance – grand, striking, and celebratory — the portraits featured in An Economy of Grace seem to transcend socio political commentary, inviting the viewer to simply bask in the singular and unassailable beauty of the portraits, to get lost in the luminosity the artist achieves in rendering the rich brown skin of his subjects, the vibrancy and precision of the graphic patterns that envelope their figures, but, on closer examination, it becomes clear: in the world Wiley is creating, beauty is only the vessel.
Each portrait explores ideals of feminine beauty, the concept of grace and upon whom in society it is bestowed, and ultimately gives status to the beauty and valor of black women, a subject historically marginalized in society, the arts, and the making of western aesthetics.
Wiley’s portraits are highly stylized and staged, and draw attention to the debate between a history of aristocratic representation and the portrait as a statement of power and the individual’s sense of empowerment.
Since ancient times the portrait has been tied to the representation of power, and in European courts and churches, artists and their patrons developed a complex repository of postures and poses and refined a symbolic language. This language, woven into all aspects of a portrait, described the sitter’s influence and power, virtue and character, or profession.
Wiley warned of the danger of assuming that art tells us universal, cultural, or autobiographical truths. He has pointed out the limitations we impose by expecting art to be a political statement, a social commentary, or a catalyst for change. “I have a cold atheist sensibility when it comes to art,” Kehinde told Alissa Guzman, writer for Hyperallergic, during the Brooklyn Museum’s Multimedia Artist Talk. “Painting shouldn’t be preachy and portraits don’t tell us the truth about the people in them,” he said, and confessed that for him his paintings are all self-portraits. As Wiley himself pointed out, the “art industrial complex” is an unfair and hierarchical place.
Artistic practice is usually understood as being individual and personal. But what does the individual or personal actually mean? The individual is often understood as being different from the others. The point is not so much one’s difference from others but one’s difference from oneself—the refusal to be identified according to the general criteria of identification. Indeed, the parameters that define our identity are foreign to us. We were not consciously present at the date and place of our birth, we did not choose our parents, our nationality, and so forth. All these external factors of our personality do not correlate to any intuitive evidence that we may have. They indicate only how others see us.
Already a long time ago modern artists practiced a revolt against the identities which were imposed on them by others, society, the state, schools, and parents. They affirmed the right of self-identification. They defied expectations related to the social role of art, artistic professionalism, and aesthetic quality. They undermined the national and cultural identities that were ascribed to them. Modern art was understood as a search for the “true self.” Here the question is not whether the true self is real or merely a metaphysical fiction. The question of identity is not a question of truth but a question of power: Who has the power over my own identity—I myself or society? And, more generally: Who exercises control over the social mechanisms of identification—state institutions or I myself?
What will you do to improve the African art community?
What will it take to finally put an end to sexism in art?
“Counting,” the editors of the London Review of Books declared, “is a feminist weapon.”
They were responding to the latest numbers by the advocacy organization VIDA, which conducts an annual count of the number of women published in popular and literary magazines. LBR’s response was meant to be as dismissive at it sounds — after all, the magazine had one of the worse male-to-female ratios in the publishing industry. But scoffing aside, counting has become a tool in the feminist arsenal. Every year VIDA, unsurprisingly, reveals a sizable gender gap in the publishing industry — and their methods are being adopted in other fields, as well.
Things are a lot better than in the mid-80s, when the Guerrilla Girls formed to picket a Museum of Modern Art survey that contained just 13 women in a show of 169 artists. Indeed, the last ten years have seen more women take on positions of power in the art world, whether at museums or in galleries.
Currently this subject is back at center stage, thanks to the Maura Reilly guest-edited June issue of ARTnews which collates the dispiriting statistics, and elicits responses from art stars ranging from Cindy Sherman to Jamian Juliano-Villani.
Reilly , a member of the Guerrilla Girls, reports: “The good news is that, while in 2005 women ran 32 percent of the museums in the United States, they now run 42.6 percent—albeit mainly the ones with the smallest budgets. But they are still not great: of all artists represented by galleries in the United States today, just 30 percent are female, according to the stats from Micol Hebron‘s “Gallery Tally” project, cited by Reilly. And that total seems to have been stuck more or less in place for some time.
You could rephrase her argument like this: Simply counting the number of “great” female artists then comparing it to the number of “great” male artists didn’t by itself explain anything, and left room to smuggle in all kinds of erroneous assumptions, unless the source of the discrepancy was adequately explained.
It’s not just museums that are shunning women artists—it’s the entire market, from gallerists to collectors and critics.
Jamian Juliano-Villani, the 29-year-old painter, writes that the more we call attention to sexism in the art world, “the longer it continues to be an issue.” Her strategy is to keep her head down, “to ignore that shit and keep going forward and make it work in my favor.”
Among older artists, Betty Tompkins feels “appreciated for what I do and what I’ve done, but when I look at the big picture I still see a lot of tokenism.”
Tokenism is a problem for women across industries, whether it’s a token female role in Hollywood or the token woman hired at a male-dominated tech company.
Because feminism is an increasingly popular—and increasingly fraught—issue today, women are often perceived as either undervalued (and underpaid) or overvalued in a token female-filling role. The media is flooded with women’s issues, and some are more deserving of attention than others.
ArtNews editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas was wary that their women’s issue would be perceived as a form of tokenism.
“It gave me pause, but in the end I think it’s important to do these things just to keep the conversation going,” she says. “But that conversation should be substantive and interesting and entertaining.”
Reilly is less wary.
“My theory is that we need women-only exhibitions, museums and galleries because there is no parity, and there’s no excuse for people to say ‘I don’t know any good women artists’ or ‘I can’t include them in shows,’” she says. “Until there’s at least a modicum of equality in representation—galleries, museums, etc.— we still need to have these ‘tokenism’ events.”
When Hebron challenged individual gallery owners — often those with the worst gender ratios — they provided stock defensive answers. Some of the choice responses include: “Women do not have the same drive or passion for their art as men do — they are not willing to die for their passions” and “Women are not as prominent in the art world because they become mothers.” If these excuses seem familiar, it’s because they are. After the London Review of Books ridiculed counting, they when on to suggest that women’s omission from the magazine was their own fault: “[Women] prefer not to write critically about other women” and “…women find it difficult to do their own jobs, look after their children, cook dinner, and write pieces. They just can’t get it all done.”
Those answers are frustrating because they’re deflective. It’s difficult to imagine that editors, curators, or gallery owners are consciously excluding women, but both Gallery Talley and VIDA’s counts show gender discrimination is as present as ever. There is an important discussion to be had about inequality in the culture industry and the industry should welcome it rather than defensively stick their heads in the sand. It is hard here not to think about the famous line in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse: “Women can’t paint, women can’t write.” Woolf wrote the words to demonstrate just how destructive sexism (institutional and social) can be on the creativity of women. Perhaps, in light of Gallery Tally and VIDA’s counts, Woolf’s words are worth revisiting. The numbers are indisputable, now it’s time understand why the numbers are as they are and try to fix them.
Art brings out feelings and emotions at times repressed deep under the many layers of our skin and this holds true for arts of all mediums. still, art from minorities, seems to come from someplace more sobering. whether it is a painting or a play, a mask or a scarf, there is always a story just waiting to be told. sometimes that story is eulogising ancestors and at other times it is praising rivers and mountains. however, the undertone often carries a yearning for a better life. and it is this ‘yearning for a better life’, which makes minorities’ artworks, a sui generis, a class of their own.
Sadly, the art world is still waking up to the intensity and soul these unique artworks carry. hence more often than not, ethnic minority art remains under-appreciated.
According to prospect magazine, ‘people from various ethnic minorities make up approximately 7.9% of the population in uk, yet only 4% of the arts workforce.’ and spread the word, ‘less than 1% of poetry books that are published in uk are by either a black or an asian poet.’
It is not just the majority of population that is not interested in ethnic minorities’ art, the ethnic minority population too has kept a distance from the arts that the majority of population follow. according to a study by museums association uk in 2008, ‘only 7% of the people working in museums come from a minority ethnic background.’
Minorities can only feel welcomed in the current global art scene when their diversities are recognised and their history cherished. ‘arts’ should feel relatable to them. efforts should be taken where they can encounter the arts specific to their own life and experience.
It is not just the exposure of the minority population to the arts that should be promoted, so should be the exposure of the non-minority population to minority arts.
“Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensity social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.” – Angela Davis
The television series Empire has been a big hit for the African American community in general. Watching this show allows the viewer to see the complex life of an African American. One can see the powerful group in which Cookie and Lucious Lyon builds together. As well, one can also see that nothing good comes easy. When the show started, Cookie was getting out of jail and serving years in prison for previous mistakes she made in the past. Even so, Lucious has plenty of enemies in town for treacherous business decisions he had to make. One thing the show exemplifies is family. Thus marrying Aneeka who had a baby with Lucious’s son, the owners and family of empire are always able to reconcile and come together for a common goal which is their music label. All in all, the show empathizes on the ladder of success in which us African Americans have to climb in order to get what we want in life. The end result of a bumpy road will always be success which is shown through the complex family of Andre, Luscious, Cookie, Jamal and Hakeem.
The painting titled “Place Soweto National Assembly” by Kehinde Wiley is all about coming together as a nation. One can infer that the meaning of the painting is foreshadowed in the title. A national assembly is an elected legislature from various countries. In the painting there are two different countries uniting. I am able to see this because the two African men in the picture are both wearing different sports jerseys to represent their land. The men are joining forces and holding a rag together in each of their hands. This picture shows unity. In the picture the men are next to each other standing side by side. Going even deeper, one can assume that they are fighting for the same rights. Their faces look very fierce and serious like they are getting ready to fight a battle mentally and physically. The two alliances have their hands overlapping one another in the bottom half of the photo. This also shows unity. The two forces themselves would not be as close in the picture if they were not getting along. This whole photo itself along with the T.V. show empire conveys the art of unity in the African American community.
To improve the African American art culture I myself will write plays in college based on real life experiences we endure as African Americans. I feel that the best way for people to empathize with African Americans is through art. Using emotional scenes in movies and plays creates a very powerful image in America’s head which will then be used to help everyone get an understanding of where we are coming from as a race. Once my plays become universal this will help open the door for more African American actors and enhance the art world as a whole.
Living in a one-bedroom apartment with my one-year old son, I anxiously prepared two bowls of spaghetti and placed it on my bed. I poured two cups of juice and grabbed a few napkins. There was never a predominately black show on regular television, that I could remember. My son was excited mostly because I was running around the house grabbing anything that he would possibly want throughout the show. Little did I know, he would also be mesmerized by the hip-hop beats and the characters too.
Empire has brought black people on television again. This show has given black people someone to look up to, has given our culture a voice, and has given us an outlet to relate to. People in our culture has characters and actors to relate to now, stories to sympathize and empathize with, and the show shares these issues not only with other black people but other cultures who are watching as well.
Not every black person is a part of a family who runs a major hip-hop label, but they still cover similar issues that black people face in their daily lives. When the show shared clips from Cookie’s stint in prison, black men and women could empathize with the experience of being prison or jail. Others could empathize with the various family members who had an incarcerated parent and the struggles that come along with this particular issue.
Every year, I struggle to look for people to be for Halloween. I don’t have a lot of well know black characters to choose from. Empire has opened more doors for that. Teenagers can dress up as their favorite version of Cookie, Hakeem, or even the infamous Lucious Lyons. We have people (actors and characters) to look up to now, and stories to compare our own lives to. Not only do we have these characters but we have the actors who have played many other roles that some people may not have noticed until this show.
Our culture now has a voice. Empire has gone over various issues, such as mental illness, incarceration, sexuality, the loss of a loved one, and even running a business. Not only are black people watching but other cultures as well. This show is on regular television; we have a chance to show how African Americans shine.
The Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, painting is a modern representation. The artwork is created in 2013, by the artist Kehinde Wiley. Wiley produced this painting from oil on canvas with measurements of 48” x 36.” Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness displays a young woman standing in front of red and blue flowers. The young woman is standing and holding a staff with her left hand and appears to be holding her chest with her right hand. This particular stance symbolizes St. John the Baptist.
She is standing as St. John the Baptist and holding a male stance to show her dominance and importance. Black women have more dominant personality types that can sometimes be viewed as masculine. She embodies St. John the Baptist and is placed directly in the center of the canvas, to show how important she is. St, John the Baptist was an important religious prophet who wasn’t respected by everyone. The flowers behind her and the colors in her attire, represent African culture.
Having the opportunity to take African American art this semester has greatly prepared me for my future. I have already fallen in love with the Sankofa bird meaning, “return to your roots.” Constantly being mindful of my own culture and how much I need to succeed in order to be that figure for every young black child who wants to be a young Lucious or Cookie Lyons and own their own businesses, or to be the next Kehinde Wiley and wishes to create beautiful works of art that depicts black people as important figures.
Becoming a therapist for troubled youth, gives me an opportunity to help aid a young black child in coping well with their current life struggles, aiding them into following their dreams and instilling a positive attitude toward their future. Thank you.
Empire shows a perfect example of how a family goes through problems but at the end of the day they stick by each other’s side no matter what the circumstance is. For example Lucious and Jamal Lion were fighting for the Aces award. Jamal and Lucious were both bashing each other in public and telling each other’s business to the press.Yes, it was wrong but it was only just a little competition besides at the end of the day no matter who got the Aces award they still love each other because they’re family. Empire helps families today know that there is going to problems but at the end of the day you have to put that aside because love is really all you have. It also shows families that not even money could make a family perfect. I have six sisters and we fight ALOT but we know that family is all you really have and we have to stick together. Empire has showed us that it is absolutely normal for a family to fight but you eventually have to bounce back and put your differences aside.
One of my favorite of Kehinde Wiley’s painting that stood out to me is Judith and Holofernes. Judith and Holofernes was created in 2012. On this painting it has a strong, sophisticated, and beautiful African American woman holding a white woman’s head. When I look at this painting I think of dominance. I see a African American that is dominant but I also that a woman is dominant which isn’t popular in today’s society. When today’s society sees a African American they see trouble, ghetto, poor, uneducated, etc. When today’s society see a woman they think house wife, gold digger, weak or not as strong as men. But I KNOW that each one of those titles do not describe a African American nor a woman. The woman in this painting looks like she had enough whether it could be having enough of African Americans getting discriminated or tired of always getting treated inferior to whites like she is not good enough. Also another great quality in this painting is the differentiation of the black and the white womans hair. In the painting the black womans hair is thick, natural, and beautiful. The white woman’s hair is America’s outlook on how hair is “supposed” to look like. Which is straight, easy to comb, and long. For example everybody at my school always wonders and questions why does my hair looks so thick or “nappy”, or they wonder why my hair is isn’t easy to comb. This painting truly has inspire me that I can be ANYTHING I want no matter how I look on the outside.
Ever since 7th grade the flute has always been one of my greatest passions. I want to become a memorable flute player. I also want to teach young African Americans around the world to be better musicians and teach them tips on how to be a better flute player. I would like to set an example for African American musicians that you could be anything you want, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; and NEVER take no for an answer because all it takes for you to be successful is your dedication.
Prior to 2015, when was the last time that you saw a mainstream television drama focusing on African-Americans? When was the last time that you saw one that captured the attention of millions of people while addressing LGBT issues, mental illness, and ALS awareness, while simultaneously supporting real-life African-American musicians?
Prior to the television show Empire, these things were almost unheard of, and that’s why the show has become so important.
For the first time in years, black actors and actresses have been allowed to explore deeper subjects and given more serious roles rather than being minor side characters in cheesy sitcoms. Since Empire’s premiere in early 2015, shows focusing on minorities have greatly increased. Television dramas such as How to Get Away with Murder, Rosewood, Minority Report, Atlanta, and Pitch are just a few that feature black leads. Empire has contributed to society by using pop culture and media to remind everyone that, if given the same opportunities as white actors, minority actors can be just as successful and create powerful content.
Kehinde Wiley’s art is bold and unique. His combination of cultural influences with classical art and techniques creates a highly individualized style.
This style is especially apparent in a portrait of rapper Ice T. This painting is based on Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s 1806 portrait of Napoleon. In Ingres’s original artwork, Napoleon is depicted as a supernal ruler rather than as his notable historical role as a military leader. The gold detailing on his throne and outfit, combined with his vehement post, gives him the presence of a Greek god.
Wiley’s portrait maintains all of the same details of the background, giving Ice T a regal and formidable air, however Ice T’s stance is very different. Napoleon appears to be almost stiff and makes direct eye contact with the viewer, showing that he is unafraid. Ice T is more relaxed and looks down at the viewer, showing that not only is he undaunted, but that the viewer is physically
and metaphorically beneath him.
Wiley’s style is distinctive, as he successfully combines knowledge of classical art with modern day influences. His art proudly features black people, depicting them as strong or beautiful. Historically, art has used darker people as a means of displaying exotic fetishism or as a way to show these people as subservient to their white counterparts. Wiley’s art retains the classical feel while making darker subjects the central figures of power.
I currently go to the University of Utah, where I am studying video game design with concentration on art. Video games are a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 2015 alone, the industry generated $23.5 billion in revenue, a 5% increase from the previous year.
There is, however, a severe lack of diversity in the industry. Just a few years ago, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) reported a rise in black developers, from .5 to 2.5 percent. This is a problem. As a result of a lack of black developers, black characters in video games are non-existent or horrendously stereotypical. They usually consist of the overtly muscular, angry black men. Black consumers are also stereotyped. Marketing companies usually don’t focus on African-Americans when advertising, and if they do, it’s usually for games related to sports like football or basketball. The industry creates the illusion that African-Americans don’t play video games, and most people don’t consider this to be a problem.
I want to improve the African-American art community by increasing the diversity in the video game industry and help to show that video games aren’t just for white men. Video games have amazing potential in terms of art, storytelling and pop culture influence. If changes aren’t made in the industry, however, games will continue to marginalize the role and contributions of African-Americans.