We began this project by thinking about the ways that working class aesthetics are used by students on Oberlin’s campus as a status symbol; looking like you have less money than you do became a desirable way to present yourself. We realized that this glamorization and appropriation of poor aesthetics extends beyond our campus. It is often through the presentation of feminine gender and sexuality in addition to race that the humanization of poverty becomes visible. Aestheticizing Poverty showcases the ways that poorness is fetishized in all contexts of society. From dynamics of saviorism on city streets to couture fashion on runways, Aestheticizing Poverty draws attention to the appropriation of the appearance of lower class status. The exhibit highlights how those with class privilege use poor aesthetics to sell and profit from an image, a message, or a product, simultaneously delegitimizing the complex realities poor people face.
Madison Fink '19, Shelby Goodman '17, Amanda Medendorp '19, Emily Peterson '19, Emma Williams '20