Who makes iconography decisions in your arts organization? If you are the leader, it better be you. I have recently advised a number of student research papers that examine alignment between mission, program and iconography, and I’m appalled by the lack of synchronization. It makes be wonder, no suspect, that the iconography has a (false) life of its own; or that it’s the organizations’ wishes being expressed, not their actual operation.
What we have been finding is some of the usual embarrassments of tokenism and cultural misrepresentation. In this latter group, when artists’ agents were asked why the misrepresentation, their answers were that this is what the public expects (!). That there is still tokenism makes me wonder who is in charge.
What I found most surprising, however, wasn’t the lack of alignment or the tokenism and cultural misrepresentation, but the profound lack of imagination and artistry.
Let’s in 2011 find a process within arts organizations that insures that iconography flows directly from the heart of each organization, and that in doing so it honors all citizens and produces artistic and fresh images.