Why communities of color having more representation in art is great

Since the end of the 20th century and also in our century, arts started to be seen as powerful means of registering violence and social traumas. Art finally abandoned the field of mere “imitation” and became an agent of memory and history.

It is not by chance that exhibitions bring current political themes to their agenda. Issues related to minorities, immigration, gender, transsexuality, the memory of totalitarianism and dictatorships, religious debates make the arts critically enter areas that were previously considered taboo.

When it comes to contemporary art, it is not a question of old engaged art (which intended to “represent” minorities) with its paternalism or pamphlet art. The new art of memory that has developed in recent decades tends more to the performance for current happenings and the “anarchization” of the culture.

Last year, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opened a new space with the goal to give a different focus to modern art and contemporary art, especially to artists belonging to minorities: women, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other groups that are not valued by the art system.

MoMA’s new space is just an example on how the world of art is shedding more light on the work of artists coming from minorities – something that is anything but a novelty on the African American Arts & Culture Complex (AAACC) in San Francisco, California.

This non-profit arts and cultural organization works very hard on the empowerment of its community, namely through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression. They celebrate Black art, artists and culture, namely via several programs, projects and services.

AAACC also acts to empower, support and promote local emerging artists, who often belong to minorities themselves and, because of the bias that art sometimes has towards those artists, end up having less opportunities.

More than ever, we need artists from these minorities to produce art and gather the strength to restore a horizon under this gray sky and this desolate landscape of our present – something best said in the words of the writer James Baldwin:

“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”