A recently completed contest organized by the nonprofit arts service network Arts Administrators of Color (AAC) and leading printed wall art service Mixtiles inspired creativity that brought together two of the dominant storylines of 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight for racial equality.
AAC invited members of its network of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists and arts administrators to submit an original photo around the theme of “Life in the Time of COVID.” All participants in the contest received a photo tile of their submitted image from Mixtiles, whose product turns pictures into photo tiles that stick and re-stick to walls.
The competition’s winning submission came from Christina Delgado, whose photo featured her daughter Omotola standing in front of a background displaying the words “Mask Tawk.” Delgado received a set of 20 Mixtiles as her prize, announced at AAC’s 2020 Virtual Convening. The other photos in the top three were submitted by Luis Pagan and Lindsey Vance. The photos were judged by the public.
Established in 2016, AAC focuses on networking and community building through the arts, fighting for equity in the arts through collaboration, forums, and outlets that provide a voice for arts administrators and artists of color where there may not be one. Its programs include an annual convening, a mentoring program, professional development events for artists and arts administrators, networking opportunities, and a podcast called Art Accordingly.
“We were so excited to be able to create a contest to offer our community of BIPOC-identifying artists and arts administrators an opportunity to show us how they have been moving through this pandemic,” said AAC Board member Joshua Henry Jenkins. “Our community has suffered greatly from the effects of this crisis. We wanted to keep the theme open enough to capture the joys, the challenges, and the perseverance of our community. The contest ran concurrently with the planning of our virtual convening which usually gathers in person, but because of safety precautions was moved to an online event. We are an organization that creates space and creates opportunity for folks to be seen and heard. This contest was a great chance to provide more space for folks to be seen.”
Jenkins added, “We opened the voting to the public so that folks could vote for the images that resonated with them most. We are so pleased to amplify Christina Delgado’s image as well as the others who graciously offered their work. We are so thankful to Mixtiles for their generosity and support of this work.”
Mixtiles donated the photo tiles to the contest as part of its company-wide effort to combat discrimination, and to educate both its customers and employees about that topic. Earlier this year, Mixtiles created a dedicated $10,000 budget for its global team to fund initiatives that support the fight against racism. The company also launched an ongoing process for donating its photo tiles to organizations like AAC that make a positive impact on Black communities.
“While our company stands in solidarity with the fight against discrimination, we simultaneously understand that we still have much to learn about racism in the U.S. and around the world,” said Eytan Levit, co-founder of Mixtiles. “As the arts are a powerful vehicle for education, we were gratified to partner with AAC on a contest that gave passionate BIPOC-identifying artists and arts administrators the opportunity to express themselves in new and creative ways which motivate the public to reflect on some of the most important issues that society is facing today.”