On Diversity and Representation in the Arts

Black and white photo of ceramic bowl with cracks in the glaze

There is a big push in the media and in the art world these days for “diverse” perspectives. This push mirrors “diversity” being used as a buzzword in boardrooms, governments and education as well.

But what does “diversity” really mean if the actual voices of so-called “diverse” individuals aren’t truthfully represented in mainstream media and in popular art discourses? How can journalists, critics, curators and gallery workers confront—rather than reinforce— tokenism and marginalization of minority voices?

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. Attending a recent symposium in Toronto called Cripping the Arts, I found I wasn’t alone in these thoughts and concerns. There, for the first time, I found out many of my feelings stem from a long tradition of misrepresentations of people with illness and disability in the media, curation and in art-world texts. I learned that others had also been misrepresented. And I learned a wider movement is afoot.

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