Combating Unconscious Bias

AAUW AMES at  the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Iowa State University.

Perceptions of Identity – Paintings by Rose Frantzen aims to develop a better understanding of Rose Frantzen’s body of work. Frantzen’s portraits continuously explore identity.

The exhibition, organized by Iowa State University Museums, asks viewers to consider what visual information cultures use to understand someone recently encountered- can this initial perception be trusted? Similar to an optical illusion, people can logically recognize how their minds are deceived by implicit biases that all humans carry, but it is a difficult practice to name and confront those illusions or preconceived notions each carry.

Perceptions of Identity challenges viewers to become aware of the illusions influencing society around matters such as age, race, ability, and to recognize the misperceptions held within oneself.

Once it is recognized that each person has unconscious understandings of the world around them, including the people they encounter daily, efforts can be made to combat those inherent biases. Organizations and systems within society can work to develop better and a more empathetic understanding of others, or to create systems to navigate and educate on the dangers of bias.

Creating procedures to slow down the automatic processing of the brain can work to combat the influence of bias in hiring practices, justice systems, and education practices. Slowing down allows for a better understanding and greater perceptions of the individuals we encounter.  Impossible shapes and illusions  surround the figures and are underneath the surface, never fully eliminated. Society can work towards a world with as many tools and systems to combat individual and systemic biases, but a deliberate effort by all members needs to be made to push past initial understandings to get to the core identity of an individual.

The creation and study of art can help to examine and build upon current understandings of how we experience the world. Frantzen has illustrated her questioning process, painting her own questions to understand how others’ identities are perceived, and through her art brings the viewer into a dialogue.  – Sidney Marshall, Assistant Curator, University Museums

This July event furthers our AAUW exploration of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The exhibition closes July 30, 2021