New campus collective aims to combat artistic underrepresentation

Chroma seeks to provide safe space for BIPOC artists

A group of artists on campus is looking to highlight the work of members of the university’s black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) communities.

Students from the U of M’s School of Art had the chance to attend the first meeting of the Chroma collective Friday.

The collective is organized by students Annie Beach, Shaneela Boodoo and Ekene Maduka.

“Chroma, an art term meaning ‘The purity or intensity of colour,’ is a collective organized by BIPOC, for BIPOC, specifically catered toward students of colour who are students of the University of Manitoba’s School of Art,” Beach said.

“Although the collective is for art students, it is a space that is open to the greater artist BIPOC community of the U of M and Winnipeg.”

Beach added that the idea of establishing the collective first surfaced in March 2018 when intern curator of the School of Art Gallery Noor Bhangu discovered a significant lack of diversity in art projects across the gallery.

“The collection does include a couple of Indigenous artists, but as a whole, BIPOC art is underexposed and underrepresented,” Beach said.

Bhangu began organizing events focused on presenting projects created by students from underrepresented communities. One of the events, Women of Colour @ SOA Gallery, encouraged BIPOC students from the School of Art and throughout Winnipeg to submit projects for display.

Along with the show, a panel discussion on representation in art institutions was also held.

“That show and the discussions around it sparked the importance to build a community by BIPOC, for BIPOC, to ensure that we aren’t ignored and left out of these spaces and discussions,” Beach said.

Boodoo pointed to a lack of representation in academia as another factor for launching the collective.

“Oftentimes, the curriculum can be very westernized and focused on European art,” she said.

“Because of this, BIPOC students often feel isolated and are not able to see them in academic spaces and within artist circles.”

Beach said through its events, she hopes the collective will develop into “solid support for students of colour.”

“We will likely begin our own projects,” she said.

Beach said some of these projects could include a speaker series, group art critiques and shows, student-organized panel discussions and group outings to First Fridays gallery openings.

Boodoo said the collective will aim to “cultivate a sense of community” among students from marginalized and underrepresented communities.

“We want BIPOC students to have a place they can go, and we want to make a safe space for these students to discuss topics and be critical in an open way.”