Race Art & Survival: Michelada Think Tank & Chats About Change (2015)

Race, Art & Survival: Michelada Think Tank & Chats About Change, was a series of conversations and residency addressing institutional racism in the artworld.

Are we so busy surviving that we forget to be radical?

In the summer of 2015, Chats About Change (Robby Herbst and Elana Mann) organized the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions' (LACE) Project Room with a residency by Michelada Think Tank (MTT), an artist collective organized by Noé Gaytán, Mario Mesquita, Shefali Mistry, and Carol Zou.

MTT inhabited the LACE Project Room with a humorous and critical exploration of survival under a framework of institutional racism in the arts. In a series of weekly think tank sessions (held in cultural spaces throughout Los Angeles), MTT brought people together to talk about survival strategies for artists of color working in a predominantly white art world.

The knowledge generated in these discussions were compiled and published as a “PoC Survival Guide” in LACE’s Project Room. This guide was a tongue-in-cheek look at how artists are impacted by race. If artists of color can come together as a community to make survival easier, we can then begin to foster more radical artistic practices. MTT held think tanks at sites where communities of color were working; some of the sessions were open forums at LACE, while other sessions took place elsewhere.

Race, Art, and Survival – Michelada Think Tank & Chats about Change is a continuation of the Chats About Change series, a project organized by artists Robby Herbst and Elana Mann, which was initiated with a symposium in January of 2015. Chats About Change asks questions, wages debates, and supports artists and activists seeking experimental ways to affect Southern California and beyond.

See also: Chats About Change: Critical Conversations on Art and Politics in Los Angeles

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