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At the Race and Gender in Modern Art Symposium Sunday February 10, 2013 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art New York Times Art Critic Ken Johnson explained that he is paid by the New York Times to write his opinion on art. Johnson then explained that fundamentally his opinions about art originate as a feeling within himself when he viewed the art.

Audience members then questioned whether Johnson should make more of an attempt to research and entrench himself in the frame work of a show as a way to come to his opinion. Johnson then explained that neither he nor any of his family members had ever been incarcerated or involved in the drug trade and he therefore was limited in aspects of the ‘black’ experience in America. He also said he prefers psychedelic art.

Johnson was brave to venture into the environment he exposed. He certainly could have created a commotion and ignored its repercussions, but he didn’t. I am personally not in any complete disagreement with Johnson on his analysis that there are ways in which an all female show has limitations. As a woman I would want to participate in shows that do not prize my gender above my work.

The discussion that occurred Sunday night, for me, was a clear display of disparities among those of difference and the difficulties they often face in attempting to communicate with each other. Johnson bases his reviews on his feelings, something that is looked down upon by those of certain cultures or classes, and particularly women, who are often encouraged to sacrifice or subdue their feelings to experience aspects of success. 

On the streets there is a saying: Fuck yo feelings. And that is because criticism should be based in fact.