Who Made You The Judge
Who Made You The Judge is a social justice art exhibit focusing on people who face judgement and inequity within society; it highlights race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical disability, neurodiversity, mental health, and addiction. The Calgary-based artist XOX Unknown presents a diverse array of hand-painted, nearly photorealistic, portraits painted on collages of descriptive words unique to each person's characteristics accompanied by honest and emotional life stories.
Every human wants to be loved, accepted, and live in health & safety as their authentic self. We all remember the saying, "don't judge a book by its cover." This exhibition invites the audience to contemplate our unconscious biases and their impact on how we view, judge, and treat people. It demonstrates that taking the time to understand someone can affect our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour. The more information our brains have about a person, the less we automatically categorize them.
"Creating this exhibition has been truly enriching. The process has taught me there is so much to learn and infinite ways to improve. A heartfelt thank you is extended to each person that took part. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your experiences. I hope the audience will see you through your portrait and read your stories without judgment but instead with curiosity, empathy, respect, and compassion."
- XOX Unknown
We all have conscious and unconscious biases that inform our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. It is an inevitable part of the human condition. Although it is a normal part of our brain function, it can often reinforce negative stereotypes. Our perceptions of our differences often fuel reactions and treatment of individuals based on involuntary ideas.
It is said that we make up our minds about people in less than one-tenth of a second – Don't we all deserve more consideration? Every person has limited cognitive space, so we restrict the time and energy spent thinking about things that don't serve us. Most people are not meaningfully introspective about their moral psychology, but shouldn't we reflect on our internal thoughts before judging? The damaging impact our judgement can have on others is devastating; it can impact self-esteem and ignite internal shame processes.
Our stories connect us and can elicit a physiological response that can inspire change. When we are vulnerable and tell our stories, it is healing. It helps us feel less alone, allows us to revisit and release negative emotions, and is a reminder of where we've been and how far we've come. Our stories humanize us to others; they can strengthen our connection, break down barriers, and heal wounds. Hearing someone else's story can be extremely valuable. Often, the only thing that can comfort us is the account of someone else who went through something similar and made it through.