Underbelly protests art inequity

On Thursday, January 18th at 6:30pm, anonymous, guerilla art collective known as Underbelly made their activism debut during the exhibition opening for Ray Kass at the Moss Arts Center of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.

Kass has been recognized internationally as a notable Virginia artist and the founder of the Mountain Lake Workshops. Underbelly members installed canvases on the windows in the main lobby, directly across from one of the three galleries that Kass was exhibiting at in the center. Underbelly members were present among exhibition-goers to hand out their mission statement and engage with those interested in their mission, which is to represent under/non-represented, marginalized artists in the New River Valley. This guerilla pop-up show was also in protest to university curators giving Kass the entire Moss Arts Center, Perspective Gallery, and the Armory Art Gallery’s showing spaces for the entire first quarter of 2018.

These three spaces are effectively the main art-showing venues at Virginia Tech, and in Blacksburg. This over-generous space dedication lacks the understanding of the need to showcase femme artists and artists of color, as opposed to lifting up yet another rich, white, male artist. Lack of equity in representation has been an ongoing issue throughout the history of institutionalized art everywhere.

Underbelly consists of artists from the New River Valley and beyond, all working in a variety of media and from different walks of life, who are dedicating their time to fighting against social inequality both in and out of the art world. The guerilla pop-up show was the collective’s first major event and they plan to continue spreading their discourse through artistic creation and guerilla tactics, joining the world-wide movement to disrupt the system.

Mission Statement

Underbelly is an anonymous, guerilla art collective that seeks to represent the underrepresented by bringing light to systemic injustices in the art world and beyond. We create our own space through curation of art events. We utilize cultural literacy and facts to make the space and time we occupy safe and to provide an equitable art environment for minorities.