Evidence of Presence – Value Added Property

Artist Statement
Black Heritage Gallery
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Rodneyna Hart: Evidence of Presence – Value Added Property

Environment: a society in which I simultaneously add (educated artist) and decrease the (black woman) value. The purpose of this series is to acknowledge and dispel the decreased value.

* The household servant’s lunch dish and utensils, destroyed upon severance
* Black babies cost less
* By conscious acknowledgement, everything I deem art, is.

 

The exhibit will showcase new works by Baton Rouge native dealing with the dichotomy of her effect on an environment. These environments are the product of a society in which her very presence simultaneously adds to (being an educated artist, and art professional) and detracts from (being both black and a woman) the value of the environment. The purpose of this series is to acknowledge and dispel the decrease in value. Called out, in particular, is the ludicrous physicalistic notion that a person’s corporeality is grounds for degrading or dismissing a group, an individual, or their input.

Inspirations for this exhibition are my mothers before me, many worked domestically to support their households. The common practice of destroying a dismissed household servant’s lunch dish and eating utensils. They were seen as unfit for use by the privileged household. The rest of the dishes, despite being regularly washed and set by the severed servant, remained intact. Long-ago as that practice may seem, the implied negative value persists. Even today some of the society’s most well-meaning entities, adoption agencies, reveal a disappointingly similar national attitude. Most agencies wind up charging fees substantially based on the child’s race. Black babies cost less to adopt, even compared to biracial children or those of other racial minorities.The lowered fees are an effort to encourage potential parents to adopt black children, as well as an incentive for those that may have been unable to adopt due to cost. This is not to say that the adoption agencies value black kids less; the adoptive community does. Studies show that black children are less likely to be adopted, even by parents willing to adopt across racial lines.

I would like to thank my photographers Jeremy Boykins, Leah Romero and Dana Hart

Gratitude to Stella Miller, the curator at the Black Heritage Gallery.

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