The campus at the University of Southern California now features an artistic mural that implores students, staff, faculty and visitors to “dismantle whiteness,” which is designed to prompt conversations regarding “racism, sexism and xenophobia,” according to its creators.
The mural was collaboratively designed by When Women Disrupt, a feminist artist collective, and students taking the course “Women: Designing Media for Social Change.”
The mural, which was recently installed at an entrance to the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, depicts large sketch drawings of four women of color along with the directive, “DISMANTLE WHITENESS AND MISOGYNY ON THIS CAMPUS.”
“The installation is intended to spark dialogue,” communications Professor Alison Trope said in a statement to The College Fix. “To that end, the signage is meant to offer grounding of terms and ideas. There is no expectation that everyone agree with the statement offered by the artists, but hopefully viewers can acknowledge the experience of peers on campus around these issues.”
Trope added, “In fact, the text was derived from conversations with students about race, gender and class issues on campus. There have already been many generative conversations prompted by the work—by those who align with the sentiments and those who do not.”
Disruption @USCAnnenberg thanks to #whenwomendisrupt artists @fazlalizadeh @jessicasabogal @aboutherfilms. Sponsored by Annenberg Idea and @VisionsnVoices. For those on campus, come check out the work near the ASC east lobby. “Dismantle Whiteness and misogyny on this campus” pic.twitter.com/jgmK1U4Q0v
— Alison Trope (@aptrope) March 23, 2018
An informational flyer posted near the mural offers details regarding the meaning of the artwork.
On the flyer, “whiteness” is described as “distinct from being white.” In the case of the mural, “whiteness refers to an unmarked and unnamed place of advantage, privilege or domination; a lens through which white people tend to see themselves and others; an organizing principle that shapes institutions, policies, and social relations.”
The flyer also highlights the backgrounds of some of the women associated with When Women Disrupt, which is described as “an intersectional feminist artist collective.”
“Since the summer of 2017, WWD has traveled all throughout the United States installing small and large scale art which call attention to racism, sexism and xenophobia. By confronting communities in the public space with art that uplifts the voices and sacredness of people whom history has often rendered invisible and less than human, WWD’s intention is to provoke greater discussion and thinking about the institutionalized and everyday systems of power and representation that reinforce racism, patriarchy, and inequality,” the flyer noted.
The Daily Trojan reported that several students were not satisfied with the location of the mural, and blamed the administration for not placing it in a high-traffic area on campus.
USC student Claire Porter said, “It’s placed in a very hidden area of campus where it’s not usually seen and I think that speaks to the administration and how they want to frame and direct the conversation and the impact — the fact that it is inward-facing not outward facing — all of these factors are intentional from the administration and I think this project would have been much more powerful if the artists were given more freedom.”