Social Media: Art & Culture

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Artist: Taira Rice


Inside the African American community we face a disconnect with each other. In our community, loving art is unconventional, or is seen as trying to be white.


We often disparage each other for trying to escape the social norms established by white supremacy, and executed by ourselves.


In a recent interview with Taira, a 17 year-old artist from Harlem expressed the feeling of what it is like to be an artist and an African American woman.


She goes through the motions of her career, starting with why she started to take art seriously.


“I was going to be judged on what my hands could produce.” She came to this realization around the time for applying to high schools. Her choice was LaGuardia but LaGuardia did not choose her… twice.


She humbly discredited the quality of her portfolio, but did not fail to call out the students whose art is less desirable but still made the cut.


“People always say the school is racist”


In a report from inside schools, their comment on “what’s special” about the school is that it has “a nice racial mix,’” yet 44% of students identify as white.


She added some of the struggles she personally faces as an African American woman. “We’re always seen as second class people and don’t get the recognition we deserve sometimes. For me personally there’s pressure to be this extravagant person, so that I can get noticed by people.”


And as for the people in our own community, she would get remarks saying that she talks and acts white, a remark every black girl who admires the abstract people like Marilyn Manson, Erykah Badu, and does not have extreme parental issues (a stereotype) has heard.


Media outlets like Instagram offer a space for the ‘undesirables’ to express the qualities that they’d been previously bashed for. Tying that together with the difficulty of getting noticed in the art world is perfect. Two instances where being accepted and rejection based on historic perception of class and racial image.


It may seem surprising to people in other business fields, but art galleries take a whopping 50 percent of profits from their artists. Photo sharing apps and other applications like Twitter and Facebook offer young people to share their passion without the fear of rejection or maltreatment.


A recent publication on Vice by Brad Phillips titled “How Instagram Is Changing the Art World” explains how millennials are in less need of pouring their hard work into art galleries or establishments for the fact that picture sharing platforms, like Instagram are giving publicity to these young artist. He explains that “more and more, collectors don’t care about validation, or a proven track record. They care about names that they hear repeated at cocktail parties and art fairs. In this way, having a prominent presence online contributes to your name being circulated, cutting out the need (a false one anyway) to be vouched for by a gallery.”  


Taira, showcasing her art on social media landed her drawings on the online Rookie magazine and the upcoming exhibit LIFEFORCE opening July 26 at  Untitled Space NYC.


Rookie magazine is a big deal for teenaged social media based artist because of what it stands for. A statement can be found on its website, which captivates that it is “an independently run online magazine and book series” which caters to teenaged artists, writers, photographers and their “cohorts of any age.”


Taira’s advice to others is patience. “I don’t have much patience myself  but I’ve learned to appreciate what comes my way and realize that as long as I absolutely love what I do and keep working at it, I will get noticed and it will have all been for something amazing.”


Here are some links… click them:

Taira: Instagram- @swegonamilly

Brad Phillips:


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