Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport
November 5, 2021 – January 17, 2022
Beacon Gallery 524B Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02118
About the Exhibition
The racial vitriol towards President Obama, the election of Donald Trump, the racially fueled murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmed Arbery, and the endemic inequalities surfaced by the Covid outbreak have brought on a profound reckoning for many, including myself. A giant spotlight is now shining on what I felt I must urgently address in my artwork.
The question that occupies me most is how I can continue to recognize and actively use my privilege in order to bend the arc of justice. What is required of me at this critical point in time? While I ardently believe in the need for systemic and institutional reform, I am acutely aware that one must also question one’s own personal narrative. And yet, it’s too easy to point fingers or blame others for inequality and racism when in fact, we all play a role. I play a role.
Over the last few years, I have spent significant time engaging in “difficult conversations”, a term coined by Robert Livingston of Harvard University. Dinners, walks, and studio visits with artists, friends, activists, and colleagues have resulted in a very intentional investigation of my role, responsibilities, and culpability as a white, Jewish woman within the racially charged and unequal society in which we live. Voicing aloud and giving a visual presentation to my own deeply-instilled judgments remains a first key step in an ongoing pursuit of deeper understanding and better engagement with our social inequalities.
This exhibition, Humanity Is Not a Spectator Sport, attempts to offer a deep and intimately visual response to this reckoning offering both a very personal portrait, as well as a call to action. This conceptual mixed media work draws heavily from core Jewish tenets and my deep Jewish identity, interchanging between the personal and the universal. One such tenet that I hold as a guidepost comes from the book of Deuteronomy 16:18-
Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof
Justice Justice You Shall Pursue
Musa Meyer, the daughter of the world-renowned artist Phillip Guston, said of her father’s paintings: “The paintings are essentially about white culpability - the culpability of all of us, including himself… he wasn't pointing fingers at others, he was pointing it at himself. What hope is there if an artist can’t examine themselves?”. Her words deeply resonate with me. In Humanity is Not a Spectator Sport, I am, in part, pointing the finger at myself and my hope is that it will inspire others to face their culpability and look inward as well. This I believe is the significant role art can play in reshaping how we think about the significant issues they address.
The title of the show is a riff off the term “Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport,” attributed to Lotte E. Scharfman, a refugee who escaped with her family from Austria during World War II. After coming to the United States, Scharfman became a member of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, devoting her life to working for the democratic process and to helping citizens gain access to their government. She embodies the concept that in humanity as in democracy, we must all take an active role.
News + Publications
Art Spiel: "Reflections on Humanity Is Not a Spectator Sport"
The exhibition offers an intimately visual response to Tabb’s personal reckoning along with a wealth of programming focused on sparking difficult conversations about race and privilege as well as presenting opportunities to take action. As the exhibition entered its final weeks, I asked Tabb to reflect on some of the conversations the exhibition inspired.
Association of Women Art Dealers: "Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport - Beacon Gallery"
Humanity Is Not a Spectator Sport, Tabb’s second exhibition at Beacon Gallery, stems from such introspection and offers a personal portrait as well as a communal call to action. The conceptual mixed media work in this show draws heavily from Tabb’s deep Jewish identity while demonstrating we can encourage change in others through our own resilience and intentions.
Boston Globe: "Imperfect Vessels"
Caron Tabb’s thorny exhibition “Humanity Is Not a Spectator Sport” at Beacon Gallery grapples with whiteness. As a white, Jewish, Israeli American born in 1965 in apartheid-era South Africa, she has many perspectives on race, privilege, and injustice. The first piece inside the door, “White!” is Tabb’s birth certificate, issued in Johannesburg, identifying her as white.
Surface Design Blog: "Caron Tabb: Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport"
In a recent interview, social psychologist Robert Livingston argued: “[when] people build walls to insulate what they currently believe to be true … relationships provide an opening within that wall for a different perspective to enter.” For artist Caron Tabb, these words were a call to action igniting a years-long reckoning with her role and culpability as a White woman in a deeply inequitable world.
Beacon Gallery Blog: "The Tzedakah Boxes of Caron Tabb's Women of Valor"
Rooted in the Jewish tenet of justice and drawing from the ritualistic Jewish tzedakah (“justice”) box, “Be the Change” is an art and activism initiative inspired by a conversation between Boston-based artist Caron Tabb and Ruth Messinger, a NYC political activist and past President/CEO of the American Jewish World Service.
Fiber Art Now: "Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport at the Beacon Gallery, Boston"
In Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport ... Caron Tabb draws upon her expertise in multiple media, including fabric to create works meant to provoke and inspire. She leans into the tensions that have characterized the recent past ... to question her role and culpability as a White woman; where inaction itself is a statement.
Beacon Gallery Blog: "BEACON GALLERY & JEWISH ARTS COLLABORATIVE"
In deep preparation for Caron Tabb’s upcoming solo exhibition, “Humanity Is Not A Spectator Sport“, Beacon Gallery has partnered with JArts (Jewish Arts Collaborative) to work together in forming a show that is highly engaging, informed, and connected.