Art Project Causes Outrage and Reflection

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

University at Buffalo student hangs \”˜White Only\”™ signs on campus, sparks outrage
by Melissa Chan
New York Daily News
September 18, 2015

Ashley Powell White Only sign art project
These “White Only” signs were hung near bathrooms at the University at Buffalo this week. Ashley Powell, a graduate art student, admitted to hanging the signs for a class art project. UBSPECTRUM.COM

Ashley Powell, 25, who is black, admitted to plastering the Jim Crow-esque signs near several bathrooms and water fountains in a dorm as an art project to express her struggles with being a minority in the U.S. and to “expose white privilege.”

“I am in pain,” the graduate student wrote in a lengthy explanation posted on Facebook and published by the UB student newspaper. “My art practice is a remnant of my suffering. White privilege and compliance only exacerbate my symptoms.”

Powell said she hung up the signs to see how many white people would see the signs and do something about it, although she claims it was not a “social experiment.”

“Today these signs may no longer exist, but the system that they once reinforced still does,” she wrote. “Any white person who would walk past these signs without ripping them down shows a disturbing compliance with this system.”

The signs, which Powell said were created with support from her professor and colleagues, caused a firestorm of controversy on campus. Students denounced the project as racist and a hate crime, ABC 27 reported. Read the whole story here.

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