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White Artists Don't Have to Make Work About Racial Identity

PSU Smith Center, 1825 SW Broadway
1825 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201, US (map)

White Gallery 1825 SW Broadway, Portland, Oregon 97201



White Artists Don't Have to Make Work About Racial Identity | Rakeem Cunningham On display: July 5–28, 2017 Reception: Friday, July 14, 6–8 p.m.

For Los Angeles based artist Rakeem Cunningham, texture has always functioned as a gateway to fantasy. Whether the portal is flowing fabric, animated seamless paper, or free flowing plastic wrap, the dents, crinkles, and crevices of a material’s surface is employed to unmask or cover up self-truths. In 2013, Cunningham came out as a gay man, opening up a whole new world and with it newfound levels of oppression, heartbreak, and discrimination.

This exhibition, entitled “White Artists Don’t Have to Make Work About Racial Identity” navigates the ways in which desire, oppression, humanization, sympathy, self-hate, and emotional apathy are imposed on queer black men through the media, family, romance, and false narratives of hyper-masculinity.


Rakeem Cunningham is a visual artist and videographer based out of Los Angeles, California. Born in 1992, his work explores themes of self-identity, queer politics, identity politics, self-acceptance, and the navigation of body politics under the gay landscape. Cunningham studied Design and Media Arts at UCLA, and frequently collaborates and showcases his work with queer/POC brands and figures such as the LGBT center, Dawn Richard, the FADER, the UCLA new Wight Gallery, Cakeboy Magazine, and the Tenth Zine.

The Littman and White Galleries are student-run exhibition spaces at Portland State University. Our mission is to provide the tools for a critical experience of visual culture through direct exposure to a comprehensive program of contemporary art for students and community members. We envision the Littman and White Galleries as centers for cultural enrichment where an indispensable art experience is accessible to all perspectives and levels of education.