From June 17 to 27, an online exhibition is being held through artnet. Its name is United for Change and its aim is to raise funds to fight racism.
United for Change will raise funds for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in the UK as well as the Underground Museum and For Freedoms in the USA.
Curator, Lee Sharrock, and Robert Galstian are collaborating with Catalina Guirado, who is organising a series of webinars related to the exhibition. The featured artists are Andreas Stylianou, Catalina Guirado, Jermaine Francis, Jon Daniel, Maxim x WLS, Misia-O’, Hayden Kays, Juan Antonio Guirado and Todd Williamson.
The exhibition was spurred by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which was a tipping point for the USA and the world, There is, at last, a serious movement to end racial injustice and police brutality and move towards a more equal society. Covid-19 has also claimed a disproportionate number of lives of people from black and ethnic minorities globally, exposing how racial inequality has even been a factor in the pandemic.
The art world, too, has been guilty of racism or prejudice against artists of colour, who have often been omitted from the history of art and overlooked for inclusion in museum collections. A 2019 study of more than 40,000 artworks across 18 museums in the USA, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC revealed that 85% of artists represented in US museum collections are white, and 87% are men.
It is clear that there is a need for greater inclusivity in the contemporary art world, and more representation of BAME artists in galleries and museum collections.
Jon Daniel Ali Afro Americon 2020
Robert Galstian commented: “It’s a cause I believe in. I’ve gone to several protests and have been amazed at not only how peaceful they’ve been but the fact that many of us feel as strongly about it despite our different backgrounds. The art world also needs to be more inclusive and there’s no better time to start than the present.”
Prodigy musician, Maxim, whose artist moniker is MM, has collaborated with WLS on a new limited edition giclée print of a grenade containing a heart, and is donating 10 prints to the United for Change exhibition, with all proceeds going to the nominated charities. Maxim said: “While Covid-19 is ongoing we thought there was world unity in defeating that virus. But there’s a virus out there spreading that’s been out there for 100s of years called racism. I’ve felt it for most of my life in some shape or form and until things change and there’s equality and justice for all no matter your race, colour or gender this will be around for the next generation and generations after that. Don’t let the world forget again and ease back into its comfort zone. #blacklivesmatter.”
Jon Daniel Angela Afro American 2020
Curator, Lee Sharrock, added, “Whatever your colour, religion or culture, you would have to be lacking any sense of humanity if you weren’t deeply disturbed by the sickening murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. As the world is reeling from the shock of the Coronavirus Pandemic, another virus that has been deeply entrenched in society for far too long has been exposed. This virus is just as deadly as Covid-19 and can often be invisible – racism. I wanted to stand up and say that Racism is not OK and it’s time to make a change. So this exhibition brings together artists of different cultures with a common voice – the voice of equality and unity.”