The Criteria of Beauty


The Criteria of Beauty is the title of a student exhibition curated by Qualeasha Wood (19 PR) and David Guy (19 SC). The exhibition is open to public from Saturday, October 27 at 10:00am to 5:00pm until November 25, 2018. THAD Concentrator Dez Jones participates in the exhibition with their video-installation, entitled Fantasia Shepard.

Students presenting their works in The Criteria of Beauty are:
Sarah Alvarez – BFA Illustration
Gabrielle Barks – BFA painting
Brianna Brooks – BFA Painting
Nikolas Cachu – BFA Apparel
Dairys Escoto – BFA FIlm
Joshua Foltz – BFA Sculpture
Hera Ford – BFA Textiles
Stephen Foster – MFA Photography
Chelsea Garvey – BFA Film Animation Video
Daa Guy – BFA Sculpture
Dez Jones – BFA Sculpture
Satpreet Kahlon – MFA Sculpture
Jarrett Key – MFA Painting
Son Kit – MFA Graphic Design
Bi Oke – BARC Architecture
Jorge Palacious – BFA Glass
Nick Raley – BFA Textiles
Desiree Nicole Scarborough – BFA Apparel
Zoe Scruggs – BFA Painting
Satya Varghese Mac – BFA Sculpture
Skye Volmar – BFA Painting
Nadia Wolff – BFA Textiles
Qualeasha Wood – BFA Printmaking

The following is the curatorial statement of The Criteria of Beauty:

“The contemporary American composer John Cage recently criticized modern jazz for using regular intervals and for being based too much on the emotions. When asked to comment on this, Cecil said: ‘He doesn’t have the right to make any comment about jazz, nor would Stravinsky have any right to make evaluations about jazz, because they don’t know the tradition that jazz came out of. I’ve spent years in school learning about European music and it’s traditions, but these cats don’t know a thing about Harlem except that it’s there. Right away, when they talk about music they talk in terms of what music is to them. They never subject themselves to, like, what are Louis Armstrong’s criteria for beauty, and until they do that, then I’m in interested in what they have to say. Because they simply don’t recognize the criteria.’” – Four Jazz Lives by A.B. Spellman

In the above rebuttal Cecil Taylor is attempting to make evident the struggle that artists from marginalized communities face when trying to make their narratives and existence legible to western european canons.  He uses the term “criteria of beauty” to speak about the ways we are socialized to appreciate culture, communities and art. He points out that while he has spent years studying the western european canons that his white contemporaries like John Cage are drawing from, those contemporaries “simply don’t recognize” the culture, communities and art that he is drawing from. Though Cecil is talking specifically about Jazz, Harlem and music in this quote, his sentiment that educational and economic institutions produce a set of criteria that exclude the beauty of marginalized culture, communities and art still rings true.

The artists in the show “Criteria of Beauty,” represent experiences that exist outside of whiteness, heteronormativity and gender binaries.  The show is a moment in which these artists will define a criterion of beauty in which they can be their whole selves and reclaim institutionalized space to tell their narratives. A criterion in which no one predestines who they love, what they must look like to deserve respect or how long they can live. This show is a reclaiming of our dead and hidden, and a chance to tell our stories in ways that give us agency of our bodies. The same bodies that find themselves criticized too often, yet rarely understood.

Criteria of Beauty proposes a reclamation of the art gallery by marginalized bodies in order to challenge the systems that prevent accessibility and further perpetuate othering. We, Queer, Black and Brown folks expressing our realities through video, sculpture, print, and other media represent hope that even if the past did not recognize our beauty, the future that we carve will.

— Dāa & Qualeasha

Location: Gelman Gallery
RISD Chace Center 2nd Floor
20 North Main Street, Providence
Gallery hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10-5