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Can The “Art Hoe" Movement Change Contemporary Art?

Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg are among the black teen artists who have joined the empowering movement.
September 12, 2015, 5:50pm

The “Art Hoe” Movement is sweeping social media. Using the hashtag, #arthoe, throngs of gender nonconforming teenagers are superimposing themselves in front of famed works of art by notable white artists like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, to raise questions about the historical representation of people of color in art, and show the art world how they would like to be seen.

“When we started the trend of superimposing self-portraits onto art work we had different ideals,” says Mars, the genderfluid 15-year-old co-founder of the movement. “I thought the display of people of color in a vivid, prosaic, and delicate manner sets a tone for how they feel."

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“For me, the Art Hoe Movement is all about true creative freedom for people of color, especially black women. People of color and specifically black women have historically been excluded from the art world or are simply used as hyper-sexualized muses whether it be in music, paintings, or photographs,” adds Jam, the movement’s other co-founder.

Young artists—including Willow Smith and Amandla Stenberg—have joined the online movement on Tumblr and Instagram. The work shared online using the hashtag #arthoe ranges between artists using the space to share original poetry, video, and photography to people sharing pictures of themselves simply standing in front of works of art.

“Art hoe” collective contributor, [Shiri Shah](http:// http://shirishah.wordpress.com/), says, "I don't necessarily sing or draw, and I'm not that attractive to model, but when I write from my heart I consider that art. This collective allows me to present that to a welcoming and loving world.”

“There is a lot of misrepresentation pertaining to the movement and [its] title," explains Mars of how some social media users have been misappropriating the name. Jam agrees: “It defeats the purpose of acquiring an empowering thesis to promote queer people of color, trans people of color, and sex workers, when it's being whitewashed and trivialized in such a vague manner."

The goal of the movement is to give a space for artists to show their work and in the process widen the definition of what counts as art. “We range from writers and singers to visual artists and social activists. It’s all art and I would want to showcase that,” says "Art Hoe" collective curator, Cassandra T. “I think at this moment the Instagram we run is our best bet. It’s easily accessible and it immediately gives artists a platform to showcase their work worldwide and who knows who’s seeing their work, it could possibly mean opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise get because of how rigid and oppressive the mainstream art world is."

Check out some works that have emerged from the movement below:

To see more work by the Art Hoe Collective, click here.

Related:

"Black Lives Matter" Makes It to the Venice Biennale

Artist Uses Watercolors to Spotlight Black Femininity

Can Tumblr Preserve Black Contemporary Art?

Illustrator Draws Queer People of Color Doing Everyday Things