Connecting like-minded people through images has produced some of the recent decade’s most interesting Internet subcultures. From the Adidas-obsessed monochromatic health goth to the 90’s-web-nostalgic sea punk, its evident when someone gets their fashion cues online.
Arguably more productive than other Internet trends based on aesthetic congruence alone, art hoe is a movement whose origins are rooted in unpacking social issues. As art hoe proliferates into cyber infinity, the motive behind the movement is getting lost in sea of ephemerally trending hashtags.
The art-hoe aesthetic is characterized by selfies superimposed over classical paintings, similarly themed collages and colorful lines that highlight an individual’s features.
“People of color, and specifically black women, have historically been excluded from the art world or simply used as hyper-sexualized muses, whether it be in music, paintings, photographs, etc,” Jam told Buzzfeed News
Art hoes are a beautiful breed of boys, girls and in-betweeners with voices that aren’t inherently angry, sassy or otherwise submissive. It’s a platform for people of color and folks from every shade of the sexual spectrum to be seen and heard. Every self-published portrait, collage, drawing and photo is a political act. Art hoe is meant to engender creativity through accessible mediums of art. Non-Black, non-POC and non-queer folk should take the role of an ally, as art hoe is an outlet for celebrating being a person of color and an “other.”
When non-Black or non-POC people call themselves art hoes or contribute to the tag, it detracts from the cogency of the movement. People who’ve never struggled with lack of representation should not use the term.
The hashtag art hoe creates a space for artists of color to be seen through a lens they’ve pointed at themselves. It allows them to express their internalized struggles and take control of how they’re perceived as they transform themselves into art.
However, the super reliable, super accurate, number one source for cultural discourse known as tumblr, has diluted the term to describe any female, male, or non-binary person who enjoys art. By this contemporary definition, the entire concept is deflated and reproduced as a simple image.
The appropriated art hoe is a fresh-faced teen who wears mom jeans, has an abundance of succulents or cacti on their windowsill and carries a moleskin notebook full of doodles in a Fjallraven Kanken backpack.
As an artistic undertaking meant for people of color, it’s troubling to see art hoe packaged and sold as a trend. Trends come and go, but art hoe is a movement with a purpose. Appropriating art hoe as a trend does a great disservice to those who use it as a channel for creativity, representation and self-validation.