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The Artist Who Wears A Green Catsuit For The Sake Of Art

A woman walks down the street. The only thing from her that catches your attention is the bright neon green catsuit she’s wearing. You keep following her as she enters The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. You notice how people look at her and comment about her with their companions. Some even take their phones and cameras to take pictures of this woman from behind. As she walks through different exhibitions, you notice how the visitors pay more attention to this woman than the works exhibited on the walls. Some even have the gall to stand right next to her and pose to have a picture next to her. But what’s the fuss about? Is the neon suit really that eye-catching or rare that people feel the need to document it?

The woman in the bright suit is artist Ayana Evans, and the scene I just described was the piece called Operation Catsuit, her first performance piece in which she filmed the reactions of people while walking through the museum. But what’s the point of doing that? What does she want to expose? The idea came to her while she was on a break from creating visual art and devoted her time to attend art galleries and opening events. One of the things that struck her was the strict dress code at these events. Since most people wore solid and dark colors, she once attended an opening wearing a bright color and realized people were really shocked. But why were they shocked?

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According to Evans, it wasn’t only the fact that she went against the etiquette of these events, but the fact that a black woman dared to do so. As she explains, she was often the only person of color in these artistic circles, or at least one of the few. In that way, just for the color of her skin, she was already the center of all the attention, and not the good kind. Artists learn the implicit norm of trying to blend with the crowd even when that is impossible at these events through clothes. But what if you don’t want to follow that norm? 

That was the moment when she decided to expose that reality. And, what better way to do so than at a public space supposedly devoted to art and the openness of mind? You already know the result. People proved to pay more attention to the woman's clothes than to the purpose of their visit. As she mentions “I realized that it was really about the Black body, specifically about the Black woman’s body and socioeconomic class.” It was the color of her skin, body type, and clothes. The combo provoked that “disruption," but it also exposed our main issues as a society: racism, classism, and misogyny. All three due to a neon catsuit, a piece that has become her signature as an artist.

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Ayana Evans’s art is characterized for being born from her own experiences and concerns as a person. It’s not just an excuse to speak against social problems, but a way to show what she has endured all over her life. In one of her famous performances, she walked through an event filled with potential bachelors, dressed in a beautiful and gorgeous dress with a sign on her back that read “I just came here to find a husband.” By doing so, she showed the pressure many women feel to make themselves look as “marriage material” and the double standards women face. Now, if being a female artist has always been a challenge, being black makes it way more difficult. Then, she’s used social media to promote her performances, and by doing so, change how the art world is perceived. She’s always showing what people don’t dare to express, and although the subjects she deals with might sound as vain and unimportant, they expose the many flaws society has.

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If you want to see more of her work, visit her official Instagram account: @ayana.m.evans

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Art not only helps move our soul and emotions. It can be used to denounce and expose what’s wrong with the world we live in. Take a look at these artists who have chosen this path:

The Artist Who Attached A Tumor To Her Face To Show The Hidden Pains Of Body Dysmorphia

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The Mexican Artist Who Challenges Sexist Culture Through His Paintings

The Artist Who Surgically Modified Her Body To Condemn Our Beauty Standards

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