How many exhibition works:
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and access are the trending buzz words defining the gains, and alarming backlash, surrounding the intent to level the cultural playing field. An open arts community representative of the greater world it informs was the dream of NYAE’s founders—though in 1947, the year the association was founded, that liberal aspiration was nothing short of radical in a world dominated by straight white males.
Seventy-five years later and that hard won advance has seen significant gains not only in the arts but in many commercial, professional, and societal vectors. Said gains now seem commonplace as we saunter from one Lower East Side gallery to the next before stopping at a chic sidewalk café for an iced chai latte. Its near impossible to imagine these same streets teeming with recent immigrants fighting for some small portion of the cultural and economic resources seeming, for the first time, to be within their reach. Within the Five Point district they converged—in American’s original melting pot. The first settlers were newly emancipated blacks and ethnic Irish, their cohabitation signaling the first large-scale instance of volitional racial integration in American history. Successive waves followed, Italians, Eastern European Jews, Chinese and more recently Latins—each group drawing lines in the sand, desperate for a foothold in the mythic American dream.
We look back at that time of opportune, if not forced co-habituation and cognizant of the many tensions between competing groups that often led to violence, question if there are not certain parallels with our own time. On the national and international stage there is an abundance of evidence indicating that present gains pointing towards a truly equitable world are at best tenuous and on a more personal level, our own thoughts and actions are likely far from utopian when we perceive our own needs threatened. How often are we victimized by our own greed, forever grabbing for more than we need while fearful that there will never be enough? How do we honestly feel about those that look and act differently from us?
Taking the Five Points neighborhood as a starting point, NYAE invites artists to create works that foreground and explore the multiplicity of issues arising in a society that seeks to celebrate a diversity of being.
New York Artists Equity Association Inc.
245 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002