A large part of my "What Is Art?" essay discussed how the artist installs meaning in to whatever their creation may be, and in the case of Ashley Powell's "Our Compliance" that could not reign more true. Her project border's provides a commentary on a society where racism is still prevalent, regardless of it is classified as institutionalized or not. The supplement of her piece depicting the now repressed message of "WHITE ONLY" is something that people today are emotionally affected by even observing it in historical context, inserting a message like such in society today creates controversy even if it is adapted as a social message. Thus arises the question of how far should the artist be allowed to go in regards to the evocation of a viewer's emotions? Did Powell overstep?? Personally, I don't think so for two reasons: the first of which being an issue as controvertial as racial discrimination should be inherently allowed to be commented on in a context that is also controversial. But also, I feel as if this project initially might be striking to an unaware observer, buttttt I also feel the general interpretation that would follow surprise would include skepticism of the sign's legitimacy.
I understand her perspective and love that she used her artistic ability to take action about the topic, but I felt that her purpose did not fully follow through. I understand that she wanted to expose the truths of white privilege, but by putting her art into real life situations, the signs took on a whole other meaning. Those in contact with them blamed the university, and did not casually question the idea of racism in our country today. Her idea was too intense, personal, and widespread to make the impact that she wanted. I believe a larger, single piece or at least an explanation behind the signs would cause the viewers to be able to experience their anger, realize the true intention, and then learn/reflect on the issue.