For centuries, museums and art galleries have been regarded as the hallmark of culture. But even though museums have been hotspot for representing cultures and experiences all over the world, they have always underrepresented black women. This is despite the contributions which black women have made and continued to make to Western society.
‘Heaven is not closed’ was inspired by a trip to Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is famous for its paintings; outstanding and undeniably beautiful. Yet the clear absence of black people in the paintings was hard to ignore. It is important to note that this absence is all too common in most Western art institutions. Especially the ones that seem to be landmarks of culture. As a black woman, not seeing black women represented at all – let alone in all their glory was disheartening.
Women are depicted as powerful and dominant in paintings at the Uffizi gallery. I wanted black women to be portrayed in a similar manner. I drew visual inspiration from the works of Harmonia Rosales and her exhibition ‘New World Consciousness’ as well as the Instagram account @artsyblackheaux.
The centrepiece of the project is the three girls linked with each other, to highlight unity, community and sisterhood. The women showcased in my work are not professional models – a deliberate choice to further highlight the point that everyone should be visible in these spaces. Another key element for me whilst producing this piece was colour and the obvious choice for me was gold as it is commonly linked with prosperity, elegance and prestige. By using the museum as a backdrop for my project, I aim to demonstrate that the art world is not closed to us.
By Aisha Seriki