I made this installation in 2015 during another highly publicized wave of American police brutality. Scaled Discords is a sound, color, and kinetic experience designed to foster deeper examinations and conversations around power structures, resource allocation, and racial inequality in America. The black and white tops represent resource disparity and the red tops symbolize the black lives lost from police brutality. At the time, I felt this was an authentic medium I could use to bring this conversation into predominantly white and affluent settings where these conversations weren’t happening. Over the years of exhibiting this installation across the country, I navigated a variety of audience reactions ranging from utter silence to destruction/rearrangement of the tops.
In 2016, a major controversy surrounding Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till titled “Open Casket” which was presented at the Whitney Biennial showed me that my installation may not have served my endeavors. One significant reading that opened my eyes was from a prominent black artist named Lisa Whittington, who wrote a powerful article about the infamous Dana Schultz’s painting.
Whittington writes, “Where is the artwork that interprets the lies that got Emmett Till killed? Where are the portraits of the men who lynched Emmett? What was in their eyes during the act of murder? What color is remorse?”
In 2017, Lisa Whittington generously looked at my installation and wrote me this note, “You did not finish the thought for the viewer. Your work is prodding the viewer to engage race with the mind. The white spinners were protected on a pedestal and nested comfortably. The colored spinners sometimes got crowded and on top of each other and knocked each other over. This is a powerful piece. Keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing!” I am grateful for her feedback and I have learned that when I seek to critique injustice through my artwork I must honestly and explicitly examine my own role in the situations I am investigating.
This installation was featured in Barnsdall’s LAMAG exhibition, SKIN