Owning up: Deconstructing whiteness

Creativity has the power to transform- this is the core of my work as an artist and art educator. This series has been dancing around in my head for almost 4 years, first as thoughts, then writing, then art. How can I shift my consciousness through being honest and vulnerable about my identity as a White woman and the privilege that comes with that? How can I create art that exposes and releases toxic thoughts in order to be a more grounded, proactive and loving human being? How can working within manifest into working more effectively in my community towards equity and social justice?

 I spent my 20's in a chaotic whirlwind of travel, reading and self-righteousness tempered with depression. My 30's were more career focused. When I turned 40, I finally felt more solid professionally and personally. It is in these past few years that I have reflected and learned to shed some beliefs, which has lead to courage and then to action.

Two bodies of work (both on this website) I created prior to this have touched on elements of my White identity. "Heidi's Hausewares" dealt with my investigation into the aspect of Whiteness that is my European heritage. "WASPS" took a more comical look at what I observed and experienced in terms of East Coast upper middle class White ideals. Now I am ready to delve into my White liberal racism, how in my attempts to be more aware and aligned as an ally, I thought, did and said things that I see were at the least misguided and at times harmful.

This work will be messy and process driven. If I wait until I have everything all set and perfect, I won't start at all. I've started and stopped this many times for the past 3 years and now I am just going to dive in. 

My intention in creating this work is to not only move forward as an individual but to also co-create dialogue. I have learned that once I share my process with a few close White friends, I am able to move forward and grow into an ally with a stronger foundation.  I am ready to expand that group. White people are struggling to find ways to work for social change but also how to talk to each other about what our Whiteness means to us individually and collectively.  One look on Facebook tells me that White people can post numerous updates supporting various social justice movements and yet there is also a need for us to connect with our own communities and begin to dialogue and then follow up with action. We need to start deep within ourselves. I would like to see this manifest through art and creativity. 

I can say with certainty that the work I have done so far has shifted me - I was carrying around a lot of mental distractions around my Whiteness that needed to be exposed and transformed.  I am becoming more present, open and clear about who I am and what my work is as an artist, teacher, mother, partner and community member.