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We Decide Who Belongs brings together recent works by Daniel Oliva that explore social status, group identification and how power structures have been expressed throughout American history. Oliva describes the exhibit as follows:
“This work studies specific historical flashpoints that evoke the unequal wielding of power by certain groups over others that are identified by race, class and gender. The images use a mixture of figurative and abstract approaches to explore actual events and also works with invented subjects that become archetypes, helping us to build knowledge about how group relations in American society have been exploited by those in power. The work explores how the biased federal housing policies of the early 20th century created a wealth gap between white and non-white citizens, while also exacerbating the mainstream public’s fear of “the other.” We inherently know that our identities are multi-faceted, but in a society that is highly stratified by inequality of wealth and justice we can often be reduced to simple stereotypes. As the idea of who “we” are grows and changes, each of us can imagine new possibilities for finding common cause and empathy with one another.”