For too long now, artists who haven’t met the criteria of being pale, male and stale have been excluded from art’s history and institutions. If art takes life and presents it back to us, we must have a very limited worldview, given the conveyor belt of Matisse and Picasso, Hirst and Koons that we’re so used to seeing. Make no mistake, though – artists outside of this standardised mould have always existed and worked. Now, thankfully, the likes of gal-dem, Two Brown Girls and Variant Space are shining a light on the work of BME women artists.
A new exhibition, We Are Here: British BME Women, seeks to explore what it means to be British and BME today. Organised and curated by Erin Aniker, Joy Miessi, Ellen Morrison and Jess Nash, the group show will display works from 15 artists, showcasing their response to and interpretation of two identities that are often assumed to be mutually exclusive. The exhibition seems particularly poignant right now, given the current anti-immigration rhetoric, our decision to leave the EU, and the rise of white supremacy exacerbating divisions within the UK.
From Danika Magdelena’s candid portraits to Sofia Niazi’s intimate illustrations, the exhibition hosts some of the most exciting creative talents in London right now. Alongside the show, there will be a panel talk with the artists and a workshop inspired by Nefertiti; it’s set to be a huge success. We spoke to four of the artists about their craft, what being BME and British today means to them, and what they wish people would stop asking them. Click ahead to read their stories.