The deeper meanings behind the “art hoe”

The deeper meanings behind the “art hoe”

The hashtag #ArtHoe on Instagram and Tumblr presents a prevalence of self-portraits superimposed on well-known works of art. Youtube has tutorials appealing to stereotypical characteristics of the Art Hoe aesthetic: mustard colored Kanken bags, color-blocked outfits (that often include mom jeans and turtleneck tops), circle-framed glasses and art socks. Google images will assault you with stylized photographs filled with doodles, berets, rainbow colored long sleeves and the ever present mustard Kanken bags.

What exactly is an art hoe? Urbandictionary.com’s highest rated answer defines it as:

“First coined by tumblr user sensitiveblackperson, art hoe is a term specifically for POC or allies who are interested in any kind of art. The term has catalyzed a subculture of white girls and boys interested in kånken backpacks, art socks, and journaling.”

The term hoe/ho comes from the word whore, originating from the Old English word hore. It is a derogatory word from AAVE (African American Vernacular English), rooted in in the male gaze. “Art hoe,” on the other hand, was conceived by rapper Babeo Baggins. Tumblr friends Mars and Jam co-founded the Art Hoe collective.

Art hoes create self-portraits superimposed on known works of art. Mars and Jam wanted to question the space that non-binary, participants/people of color (POC) occupy in history and art. They recognized the needs of marginalized people by breaking down stereotypes by highlighting queer culture, gender and visual art. It is a subversive movement targeting the repressive mainstream art scene.

Model and activist Gabrielle Richardson describes these collective works in an interview with Vogue as “. . .a space created for us and by us; an online art gallery for queer people of color to showcase their work in a safe environment. So much artwork you see in contemporary spaces and even historical art spaces is mostly done by white, heterosexual artists. There are so many voices outside of that. It’s time that they had a platform.”

The Art Hoe movement was made by people of color as a defense against stereotypical and discrimination in the place of art and history but embraces inclusivity.

The Art Hoe movement was made by people of color as a defense against stereotypical and discrimination in the place of art and history but embraces inclusivity. Everyone can take part – POC or not (and that’s just freakin’ beautiful). The Art Hoe movement eventually associates itself with community, creativity, inclusivity and self-actualization.

You don’t need a Kanken bag to belong to the Art Hoe movement. Neither would you have to be a non-binary participant of color. You can wear a mustard top with your high waisted denims if you want to, Art Hoe or not. Material possessions help emit an aura of contrived zaniness but the decisions we create, as consumers of media, are always influenced by history and deconstruction of appropriation. Any one should be free to wear and express themselves in anyway possible. Art is free for all.

If the #ArtHoe creative sensibility resounds with you, check out and participate in the collective’s submission-based profiles on Instagram and Tumblr.

by Hana Quinco
Art by Ninotchka Arreola

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