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UNITED - An Exhibition by Shani Richards

As an undergrad at the University of Akron, Shani created a body of work inspired by the bling jewelry worn by those in the hip hop industry.  She created large, heavy necklaces using derogatory language to represent the historic burden many have had to bear from words and labels, particularly in the black community.  Crafting these racial slurs into shiny jewelry reflected the commercialization of black people which is rooted in slavery.

For her residency, Shani further examines the power of racial slurs and expands her research to include sexual orientation and gender pronouns.  United is an exhibition of her work and the art relies on audience participation and conversation.  Hanging a label from one’s neck can be an empowering process as the word can become neutralized by being presented as a shiny necklace.  Gallery visitors are encouraged to choose a pendant and take selfies for social media in order to open up dialogue outside of the gallery. 

Shani Richards

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