Labels: A Shadowbox

Labels, by Georgia Young, Durham, North Carolina, 2017.

Audio image description:

Labels, which inundate daily life, tell the reader what they are looking at, reducing the effort needed to understand something about the labeled item. Labels, when applied to people can limit, rather than enhance understanding. Using a label for a person results in classifying the person as one or the other. The word “crazy” is one label, which allows the observer to brush aside any deeper meaning to a person’s actions or existence. This art piece tries to show the multiple layers that can factor into different behaviors or experiences, which are often classified as “crazy.”

Labeling of difference is not new, and was used in the women’s suffrage movement to discredit women, symbolized in this piece by the suffragette in the background. The proceeding layers of the piece serve as the events, such as trauma or genes, which could affect someone and result in different behaviors than are socially accepted. Among the layers are the labels that one who expresses themselves differently may hear, such as “insane”, “mad”, or “dangerous”. The top layer, which spells out the word “CRAZY”, obscures the images behind it, just as the label “crazy” obscures the true depth of a person. On top of the word “crazy” are pills and jail bars, showing the ways that society tries to alter a person or separate them from society once they have been labelled.