Race, Power, And Justice In Weight By Shael Saar

1014 Words5 Pages

Race, power, and justice are all important themes both in the artworld, and in the everyday lives of people in society. These themes become even more important and personal for the members of marginalized communities, especially in today’s social climate. Artists can serve as the link between the artworld and the everyday world, providings a poignant example of how themes of race, power, and justice intersect in the lives of marginalized communities everywhere. Through her sculpture, Weight (2012), Alison Saar addresses the dominant narrative of black bodies, especially women’s, as objects of labor to control. Weight is a fiberglass sculpture coated in coal-dust infused resin, featuring a young black girl sitting naked on a swing, suspended …show more content…

It challenges viewers to think critically about the ways in which power is distributed unequally along lines of race and gender. Saar raises important questions about the levels of oppression that black women face. Being black in America has been and still is dangerous. Not only are black Americans victims of targeted crimes against them due to the color of their skin, it is also significantly more difficult for them to get ahead in society the same way a white American could. For black women, this is only doubled by their sex and gender. Women are often the victim of harassment, assault, abuse, and even murder just because they are women. In the workforce, women still make, on average, 81 cents to a white man’s dollar. That amount drops even more if that woman is black, down to 63 cents. Through the symbolism of a young black girl weighed against the labor expected of her, Saar invites viewers to reflect on their own complicity in these systems of power and to take action to address the inequalities and injustices that …show more content…

The lines of direction and connectivity between the girl on the swing and the tools suggests that she, too, is a victim of the weight of history and ongoing forms of oppression. By placing these objects alongside the figure of the girl, Saar draws attention to the labor and work that black women have historically been forced to perform, often without recognition or compensation, that continues on through generations. Furthermore, the placement of the objects next to the young woman also suggests that she is actively engaged in the work that they represent. She is not simply a passive victim of historical traumas and current oppression but is also actively engaged in the struggle for liberation and justice. She is as much chained to the scale as the tools are, despite her free appearance. Ironically, an item that is used to cause damage, a pair of boxing gloves, is in this case a symbol of the desire for freedom. The gloves represent a fight for equality, for equity, and for justice in a very literal sense. However, this item hangs in the balance with the rest of the tools, perhaps symbolizing that fighting the way out is going to come with a price and with

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