“Women Striving To Get Ahead”

Latino visual artist Sofia Maldonado was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance to display her mural entitled “Women Striving To Get Ahead” on 42nd Street. 42nd Street is known around the world as one of NYC’s largest tourist destinations. Ms. Maldonado has received a rush of criticism regarding her depiction of Latina and Black women. Many are saying that the images are negative and have no business being displayed in front of millions of travellers. My boy Mykwain Gainey went into the trenches and came out with a spit-fire of a expose.

Of course I’m not going to let this post go by without my thoughts on the matter, although I should truly stay neutral. I believe many people are extremely close minded. I understand that the Black community has endured generations of negative images with no control over how they were to be portrayed. At times, the community remains stuck in this mindset and when confronted with anything they deem negative, they fail at seeing the beauty behind an image. Maldonado has done outreach work in impoverished communities and the mural depicts women that influenced her. The images are of women that have changed her life, while at the same time, allowed themselves to be changed as they strived for better lives. These are women she saw daily and her art speaks for them. Whether we like it or not, these are images that are embedded in many Black communities in metropolitan areas. She’s not glorifying their lifestyles. The images are full of color. Color comes from light. Light is beautiful. Maldonado is expressing admiration for the beauty of so many women that have been defouled, belittled, abused, and stereotyped for the greater part of their lives. One guy mentioned his disdain for the piece because it’s not balanced and would have rather seen images of professional Black people going to work. That’s beautiful in of itself and those images are also necessary, but let us not forget that a team or community is only as strong as its weakest link. We must learn to be fishers of men and inspire them to learn the art of fishing. One love Mykwain. One love Sofia. ONE LOVE…

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2 comments

  1. Liligi · March 19, 2010

    Hmm… As an artist myself, I think there’s a couple things that could’ve happened here:

    1: The artist knew what she was doing and created controversy on purpose.
    2: The artist had a bunch of ideas lined up and the Time Square Alliance picked this one…. and if that’s so, I’d give props to the artist for her intention, but I don’t think the TSA has the same intentions at heart, and THAT is what would make me really mad about all this.

    3: Cha-ching… like the lady said.

    My personal opinion is… I don’t necessarily think the art is as beautiful as the disagreements and conversations that are arising because of it. I think the upheaval of old thinking is what art is supposed to inspire, and this does it. However, I’m not naive enough to think that big wigs like the TSA are beyond choosing this piece to be represented because….. Well, let’s not get into conspiracy theory now. But the bald guy had a good point. Where were the white people in the picture? And where were the opposite sides of the spectrum in the picture? The suits and ties? Or even the women who’re not here bustin their ass to be beautiful or attractive but to keep their heat on? I mean, if the artist wants to open our eyes to those who we try to hide in the closet because we’ve “outgrown them,” then she could’ve taken more routes than just what seems to be a “sexually-suggestive” one.

    I think the piece itself is really cool, and the style does fit with the times, but what it’s representing is like…. Only an American would get it and only an adult could discern it for its true meaning. BUT in the overly public venue it’s IN… Time Square, where there’s a bunch of foreigners and children, and etc., I don’t think this is the best place for it. Because if those people can’t look beyond it for the meaning that everyone else sees, then they will turn it into something to feed their stereotypes of others….

    Also, don’t Disney own TS? Wth?

    • dconley · March 31, 2010

      There’s always a conspiracy theory behind everything. I’m tired of conspiracy theories. I’m at the point of saying “So the hell what.” TSA chose this idea out of a few on the plate. So be it. The artist was able to display work that she sweated over and is proud of. That’s what matters to me. The upper echelon will always have something up their sleeve. I’m tired of tiptoeing around that. In fact, I just may go Tyler Perry on all of y’all. Get my damn money. I’ll eat the criticisms…while also eating my prime rib as an appetizer.

      Suits and ties are boring. That bald dude’s opinion holds no weight. They bore me by just looking at them. Why in the world would anyone want to paint people going to work in suits and ties. People will always have some problem with art. The artist portrayed women that she interacted with. Maybe she had no experience with White women of the sort. Maybe she cared not to include White people in the painting. Maybe she’s tired of White people being included in everything. Who knows. That’s for her to say. That piece is super fly. It’s a new millenium. There are enough Black people walking around in suits and on cellphones talking business for foreigners to see both sides of the coin while they are visiting.

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