The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Board issued an apology Thursday afternoon to all involved in the fallout from running a piece that some found offensive in this past weekend’s Wearable Arts Show. The statement came after more than 100 people showed up at the body’s regular board meeting Wednesday night.
The piece, entitled “Doragon” by Haines artist Beth Bolander, included a large dragon design, kimono-style fabric and face paint in the style of a geisha. The piece drew criticism, as some asserted that it was an example of cultural appropriation — commonly defined as the act of adopting certain elements of another culture without the consent of those who belong to that culture. Neither Bolander nor her model are of Asian descent.
Following the backlash of the Saturday showing, Bolander and the JAHC organizers agreed to pull the piece from the Sunday show. The JAHC board released a lengthy statement Thursday, apologizing to people of color and others who were offended by the piece, as well as Bolander, the model Dani Gross, Bolander’s friends and family, the artists at the event and to those who spoke out about the issue.
“The JAHC is receiving a high degree of criticism from both sides of this debate, and truthfully it is deserved,” the statement read. “By allowing escalation to the degree it reached, our organization let the entire community down.”
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