The Room of Silence
"I've never been in a place where I've been more confused about race in my entire life."
My senior year at RISD, I collaborated with the student group Black Artists and Designers (B.A.A.D.) to document the difficulties faced by students of color at predominantly white art schools.
We released “The Room of Silence” to the community on social media. It went spread across campus in a matter of minutes, raising support for a rally scheduled two days later (”Not Your Token”), and attracting the attention of local newspapers. In response, the administration established a committee to reform marginalization on campus. It began a dialogue about race where previously there had only been frustrating silence.
Online, the film spread virally, and been spontaneously screened and included in curricula at art institutes for higher learning nationally and internationally, including University of the Arts London, MassArt, and MICA. It has shown as part of national conferences on art and pedagogy, most recently the AICAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Convening in November 2018, where the film was seen by faculty and students from over 30 schools. It has been installed in galleries, and will be included as a teaching resource in BFAMFAPhD’s forthcoming book and transmedia educational project, “Making and Being.”
While I was responsible for shooting, cutting and hosting “The Room of Silence,” this project was fundamentally a collaboration. None of this would have been possible without the important contributions of Olivia Stephens, Utē Petit, Chantal Feitosa, and the student organizers at B.A.A.D. You can listen to Chantal and I discuss the origins and impact of the project in this episode of Bad at Sports, which was recorded live at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea, NYC, on January 18, 2019.
Contact me if you would like to arrange a screening. In the spirit of the original project, use of the video for screenings and discussions is completely free of charge. You may post it to any platform as long as you share attribution and let me know that you are doing so. I also request that you forward any documentation or press materials that come out of the screening.