The Year 2 Homa trainees exhibited their anti-racism artwork exploring race, power and privilege on 7th July 2023 at Homa Psychotherapy, 26 Lloyd Baker St, London, WC1X 9AW
If you would like to understand the context of this exhibition, you can read or listen to the blog post about the Homa Race, Power and Privilege module HERE
Harriet opens the exhibition by introducing Trupti Magecha, a Homa guest tutor who co-leads the Race, Power and Privilege module and Dr Aileen Alleyne, who supervises the Homa tutor team.
Next, we hear from three Year 2 Homa trainees: Fabienne, Peter and Sophie
Each trainee created eight pieces of art throughout the module, in response to specific prompt questions. They chose to exhibit up to two pieces each.
It's complicated, messy... where do I start?
This was inspired by thoughts around racial stereotypes and how black people are viewed as a monolith by white people. The brown circles represent black people and no matter how different we are as individuals whether it tall, short, dread locks, high top fade, middle class, working class when a white person sees a black person, there will be an assumption that in some capacity that the black man or woman they’ve come across is similar to another black man or woman they’ve come across previously. I purposefully tried to shape each circle differently ever so slightly to demonstrate the difference but through the eyes of white people, we are all the same.
This was a response to the prompt "In what ways have you bought into the idea that white is better?" I remembered visiting an exhibition in Vancouver showing indigenous art, including a large wooden sculpture that I have recalled here. My grandmother Pat (a Black Jamaican woman) was smoking furiously outside. With enormous disdain, she said something along the lines of "When Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were portraying the sublime in Europe, this is what my ancestors were doing"
FRAGMENTATION This piece of mark making was in response to feelings around being "called in". I noticed the initial shame spiral, then feelings of anxiety layered under feelings of anger. The race, power and privilege module has, for me, resulted in a fragmentation of self and a movement towards discovering a new identity through anti-racism work.
FOR HOW LONG? I listened to a podcast that discussed white people supporting Black Lives Matter by displaying banners in their windows or signs on their front lawns. I was struck by the comments of a black man in response who had observed white people taking those signs down after a few weeks or months as if they'd finished supporting the black communities. What made those white people think the time was right to take those signs down?
RED - This image represents my experience of my own previous white apathy, with the movement reflecting a commitment to lifelong learning and activism around anti-racism. The red represents the rage I have felt - and continue to feel - when confronted with white apathy.
Wake up! For fuck’s sake! Where are you all? Get out of your cosy worlds and open your eyes. It's never ever too late. We must unite together and do this work YESTERDAY!
I found the 'making process' a profound way of accessing this work through an unfamiliar lens. A good analogy for the work. It allowed me to cut (sometimes literally) into the rage, guilt and shame that threatened to keep me stuck and into a calmer body, able to channel those feelings into honesty, connection and hopefully, effect some real change.
To pour over art and make together whilst having awkward, nasty, difficult, shameful, heart-breaking conversations was a portal into change in a way that wouldn't have been accessible without it.
Waking up my unconscious thoughts and beliefs and the impact and harm I have caused I felt the squirm of shame like a virus running through my veins with blood on my hands.
Without running from these feelings I allowed the unknowing to leak as I cut the paper waking up to the blind dehumanising of myself.
No longer numb I acknowledged my responsibility to stay committed regardless of my pain, to be a better friend in this heartbreaking yet heart-expanding anti-racism love work.
This loop is a familiar pattern - the waves of shame, fury, resistance, acceptance and renewal that this module constantly gave me. The rush of feeling and wanting it not to be there, dropping down into acceptance, away from the preventative white centring and into heartfelt allyship.
The deep acceptance of my part and working to do better. A commitment to being the best partner, friend and ally I can be. To doing this work for a lifetime, failing and then failing better.
Ignorance is bliss, so they say… Well, there's no time for ANY kind of bliss with this work! We must get on, fight, be heard, and scream from the rooftops… as anything other than this is UNACCEPTABLE!
I AM! - My experience of being a mixed race woman learning how to navigate predominantly white spaces has taught me to tone police and shame myself. I have learned ways to speak softer, laugh quieter, suppress my anger, hold pain and not to shine too brightly. I met my internal oppressor through this work and I saw that I can oppress myself in ways that I was completely blind to. My art is me reclaiming myself. Reclaiming my pride and unapologetic joy, for being a mixed race woman of Black Caribbean heritage. While making my marks, I visualised myself breathing the affirmations back into my heart and soul as my own, before I scream unashamedly to the world.
In the process of art making my visceral embodied feelings of truth started to shape how my white fragility and privilege reside in my unconscious being. Following my body I cut strips of white paper dismantling the white sheet of silence.
I began to twist and turn each small piece making my hands raw through the sharp edges. I felt my discomfort waking up to my anger, fear and shame about white supremacy.
Truth telling is painful but more powerful is my love work and commitment to my values of equality, justice, integrity and equity for BIPOC.
Despair, self-loathing, hopelessness. These feelings were present throughout the term and on this day I could not get beyond them.
WHITE FREEZE - When I found myself in difficult conversations, my white fragility often kicked in and I froze. These markings were intended to show how messy the conversations can be, how I had to be willing to make mistakes but continue to show up regardless.
RAGE HAT / INJUSTICE
As I was exploring my fears and hopes about being called in or called out, I let my body lead the way. There was not much conscious thought but I was aware of having many complicated feelings. I created a layer of colour on the page and then drew a free form shape on top which I obscured with more layers of colour. I then felt compelled to reclaim the original shape by outlining it where it was still visible and to gently colour in some of the new shapes that had emerged.
I made this art piece by following my body as I connected to my feelings around internalised racist stereotypes, and where these may have come from. I started with a narrow colour palette which I swirled around the page. When it felt finished, I took time to choose another colour palette and repeated the swirling, and then another, and another, until it felt complete. The action of swirling the colours very firmly onto the page allowed some release for my feelings of shame, anger, and frustration, followed later by my feelings of determination to challenge these narratives every single day.
CALLING IN / CALLING OUT
Antiracism work is love work
This was a response to coming to the end of the module and responding to the question of what commitment I am willing to make in relation to the work around racism. I guess I just thought about everything I have experienced and will continue to experience and how I will continue to live out the privilege of being black and what that includes. As the only black man on the course, it was so important to voice that this is more than a module to me this is my life. The work doesn't stop.
4 MY BROTHERS, 4 MY SISTERS, 4EVER - One of my favourite anger rituals is ripping paper. I was so angry, so often in this work that I found myself making most of my art out of the torn paper. Making something beautiful out of the 'mess', making the focus the pieces that were ripped and left behind. For our final exploration, I felt called to write mantras and affirmations for myself and every other Black and Indigenous person on the torn strips. The self love and affirmation felt radical and powerful. In order to stay present and connected with the rest of the group I would tell myself that this work is for the greater good; 4 my brothers, 4 my sisters, 4 ever.
The HOMA tutors appreciate all the year 2 trainees for co-creating this thought and emotion-provoking exhibition.
Collating and editing artwork text
Music, curation team and speaking part
Hospitality, speaking part and exploring stage options, meet and greet
Invitation and artwork text design
Photographer, meet and greet, curation team
Digital invites, meet and greet
Music, curation team and speaking part
Speaking part, event schedule, meet and greet
Photo album and project managing, helping set up hospitality, photographer
THE PHOTO ALBUM
As part of a mindfulness photography homework task in the race, power and privilege module, Homa trainees and tutors considered the experience of white apathy. Trainees and tutors explored what feelings came up as they reflected on their own inaction or when they meet white apathy. The photographs they took, in their local area, were all collated into a printed book which was available at the exhibition.
"I took the picture not really knowing why or what exactly I was doing. It was taken at a local park and a random bench within. After many hours of trying to decipher what I was really seeing, it hit me Gentrification. Just like I’ve seen in my area and many others. To many of the locals of this area and many inner London areas, it has become like the plague. And it continues to spread, until what was once there is no more". Peter
"I was drawn to go for a walk in my local park. It was a still, cold winter’s dusk, and I started walking along a path following the Longford River. As I walked, I was drawn to the reflection of some trees in the still, glass-like river. I noticed how entangled the branches of the trees were, how it created a complex web an intricate network. And I thought: how like systemic racism this was; how tangled up in it we all are; how complex the webs are; how pervasive and entrenched racism is in our society". Lila
"I grew up in Sevenoaks, Kent, in the 1980s. It was almost exclusively white and undoubtedly privileged. I moved back there recently and wanted to see if I felt much had changed. I went for a walk, wondering what I’d find. It would be unfair to say things hadn’t changed, but also unrealistic to suggest it felt much different. White centering (as displayed here) is just one of the many forms of white supremacy on show for those curious enough to look. I am glad my eyes have finally opened to
what’s been under my nose for decades. About time". Dom
"I took this image of an illustration and advert printed on a giant construction wraparound. A facade over an existing building - it is visual only, the structure still exists behind it, even if it is covered. As a designer and illustrator, I have a big responsibility. Organisations are talking much more now about 'diversity and inclusion’, but how much of it is real, meaningful change, and how much of it is for show? In my role as an image maker, I am complicit. Who am I designing or drawing for, are the stories I’m telling about them true, or am I helping to build a facade?" Izzy
"She screams the scream of immeasurable pain, travelling with her throughout time. Lines down, lines across. Her disembodiment carries two minds, One forwards one back. She cannot shake it off. Will she ever be free from ancestral atrocities? Her burden alone to bear? A head of ghost I see - yet she is as real as you or me. Her lips are curling with rage and grief. Lineage does not delete the pain. What she carries trails on affixed into forever. A thousand times my feet have walked on, over and by. I stop now and take her in". Lauren.
"Do you see him? An indigenous elder. Hidden in plain sight on this busy Soho street. Here for all who care to look closer. Proud mouth, Peaceful warrior. How low to the ground and out of place he seems amongst the full bodied people, and yet he’s here. Rays of light shine upon his dignity. I wish for him to rise up and walk with me. The holes and cracks about him are his scars, woundings deep. His stoney headdress is his spine. It reaches down into time. In silence he remains waiting for one of us to stop and contemplate his reverent existence". Lauren
"Beautiful, bright colours in this dull, grey street among so many restrictions, instructions, rules, and control. And I keep walking". (Photograph taken with permission) Sophie
"APATHY IN THE CITY ~ I see structure and scale. Invisibility and responsibility. Detachment and hierarchy. Foreground and background. Service and indifference. Apathy Vs Empathy in the city; Don’t look up! You might feel something!" Fabienne
"This photograph has a powerful message for me and I call it "Trudging through treacle". On my morning walk with my dogs, I found myself literally stuck in a deep pit of watery, dirty, smelly, sticky, gloopy mud, and it reminded me of the work I have been doing on this topic and how passionate I am about it. It was a momentous moment for me and ironic that as I was stuck here I realised the depth of the problems BIPOC face and how much oppression there is around them. As I reflected further, I knew that as a white British Jewish woman I want to do my best to make a difference". Stacey.
"This image was made In Haringey where I often work. The difference between the more affluent and more economically deprived parts of the borough represent a 15 year disparity in life expectancy between communities". Trupti
"I must have walked past a branch of Paks almost every day for 16 years living in East London without thinking about it. This photo seemed to encompass so much of what I was learning about myself through our Race, Power & Privilege work. Put simply, Paks specialises in Black Afro Hair & Beauty products because barely any other high street shop considers stocking those items. It represented real ignorance on my part, but it was also a reminder that we all have different needs. Put another way,
our society still values the needs of white people above those of black people". Liam
"I see community and togetherness. I see finding a home somewhere uncomfortable and precarious. I see warmth, an invitation, the need to find small joys on a Monday night. I see belonging and finding one's feet. I see strength - steely, necessary and un-celebrated". Kate
"In Shakespeare's time, this place was one of the cheapest and most accessible forms of entertainment. It cost a penny and it wasn’t elite. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of history and human connection, and should be a place of total equality. And this beautiful theatre is built on a history of colonialism, imperialism and oppression. The organisation is dedicated to an honest, public unpacking of its history, and is a leader in anti-racist work. But does everyone feel welcome? How truly
equal is it and how much does it uphold a white supremacist structure intentionally and unintentionally?" Harriet
"As I walked through my local park full of white people, I stopped under a tree and was mesmerised by the shadows of its branches dancing in the wind. I had been feeling the heaviness of our race, power and privilege training and I saw the shadows representing my own racism and apathy. The cracks in the pavement represented new awareness and insights for me as a result of the Homa training. The cracks also signify an opening up of myself to commit to ongoing anti-racism activism". Wendy
"Do you see her? I didn’t. It struck me as a classic example of white privilege an Oxford University concert performed by musicians, all of whom were white. That’s why I took the photo. But then I noticed something there was, in fact, a person of colour at the back, playing trombone who I only spotted much later. I had completely missed her. I hadn’t even noticed!" Nick
"In the misty stillness and eerie calm of Eastbourne beach in February, I noticed this stack of stones that often represent stability, harmony and peace despite our society being far from any of these things. As I sat with the stones questioning, challenging and dismantling this interpretation through my white lens suddenly the stillness and silence became uncomfortable and unbearable. Stepping out of my comfort zone of perfectionism and noticing my white silence and optical allyship as
I embody this anti-racism work, my intention is to listen, learn and unlearn my unconscious bias and continue to dismantle my illusion of harmony for dignity and equality for all". Vikki
"The Petchey Academy is a secondary school, near my home in Hackney. In 2020 a Black child (‘Child Q’) was strip-searched by police at the school. I took this photo because the school is such a politicised site for me: a blue-glass and steel symbol of racism and racist assault in my community. The young man pictured walked into the shot as I took it. I wonder if this is his school, and how he felt about me taking the photograph. He looks as though he will speak: he did not, and was gone before I could ask". Sophie
"This tiny shoot, breaking through the wall at the tube station made me feel hopeful that growth is always possible even in places that appear utterly intransigent". Emma
You can read or listen to more about the Homa Race Power and Privilege module.