Much of the response from LACMA’s audience has been positive, and yet the specter of misrepresentation prevails; below the picture of the four women on 6th Street Bridge, a comment reads, “People should get over their trauma to validate the rave (drug) and gang scene of the ’90s so you can call it art.…If any of them made it out alive and some sense of self-worth they would tell you it’s not something to glorify or put on a pedestal.”
Rosales has also received messages that similarly accuse LACMA of glorifying gang violence. “I’ve never posted pictures of cholos,” says Rosales, “but it is crazy that the moment you start talking about gang violence, you’re glorifying it. I was feeling uncomfortable exposing myself in this way, to a larger platform, and to an art audience.”
But rather than retreat or stifle this discourse, Rosales and Govan decided to let comments like these remain (provided they do not cross a line to become hate speech). Not only have commenters with positive feedback rallied against the negative in greater numbers, Govan also recognized the value of opening up channels of communication in an establishment institution such as LACMA.
“In previous decades, the museum has not had a two-way conversation with its audience,” he says. “This is all new. But if you’re looking to what the future holds, if you’re looking to find what’s possible, you look to artists. They see farther in all directions than anyone.”