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Exploring Hierarchy & Ego

Looking within using movement, cloth, and objects

The scarcity mindset is a way of thinking that is characterized by a belief that resources are limited and must be fiercely competed for. This mindset can be rooted in a hierarchical social structure, where certain individuals or groups are seen as more deserving of resources and opportunities than others. It can also be rooted in a competitive culture, where individuals are encouraged to compete with one another for limited resources or opportunities. The scarcity mindset can be driven by ego, as individuals may feel a need to prove their worth or superiority by obtaining or hoarding resources. 


As an artist I started to think of the scarcity mindset as it related to the art world, galleries, and museums. 


In any hostile situation the body must adapt.

yvonne and terracotta sculpture


The hierarchical structures imposed by a few in society create a sense of scarcity, and this scarcity mindset can lead individuals to seek out and hold onto power and privilege within the hierarchy.


As an artist I see the scarcity mindset in the competing for funding, collectors, galleries, and museums. Many non profits have only added themselves to the power dynamic but the artists still struggle.  Sometimes, we artists try to do better.  We may start a gallery, but inevitably we end up doing open calls and having artists submit proposals for our spaces.  

What has changed?  We are now in positions of power.  We have now inserted ourselves  into the power structure, but little else changes.

In a hostile environment the body must adapt. 

I created a piece in terracotta to represent hierarchical systems that can lead to the scarcity mindset. 


I went into the field with hierarchy on my head to contemplate hierarchical structures. The garment worn is a collaboration with Afatasi The Artist. To create the garment, we imagined a space devoid of hierarchy. A space free to explore.  

yvonne shortt holding terracotta sculpture


In a hostile environment the body must adapt. 

Because the Ego perceives resources are scarce it adapts. It wants to be the best, make others feel lesser then, be closed minded, not care about those who can’t help it succeed. It desires selectivity which leads to exclusivity and the desire to be part of the hierarchical power structure. 

I created a piece with terracotta. I put ego front and center. The ropes are there to protect it. The people on the side are behind ego; lesser in many ways. The rope keeps ego securely in its position. The rope can also be used as a stranglehold preventing ego from seeing what's to the right and left of it. 

yvonne shortt sculpture with rope and terracotta
yvonne shortt terracotta sculpture

Scarcity To Abundance

yvonne shortt teracotta sculpture with paint

An abundance mindset is a way of thinking that is characterized by a belief that there are plenty of resources and opportunities to go around. This mindset can lead to a focus on collaboration and mutual support, rather than competition, ego, and hoarding.

If I apply the abundance mindset to the art world I let go of ego and hierarchy.  I no longer care how the "art world" perceives me.  I no longer yearn to be selected for opportunities or accolades. I see that museums can be a place of complacency, have art that was stolen, value money over integrity, and where the super rich hoard resources for a select few. 


I see as an artist I have the power to be my own museum or gallery.  As my own museum I can reimagine what it is. I can decide how my museum works.  I do not have to use it as a place to select others work but for my own work. I can use it as a space for collaboration based on mutual generosity.  I can acknowledge everyone's resources are different and that a museum is only space: The body, a bench, a room can all be a museum.  The museum can exist anywhere.

I created a headdress to take to the field. It’s heavy. I sit with scarcity and abundance. 


In any hostile situation the body must adapt. 

Scarcity to abundance was the first headdress I made.  I asked questions of myself that helped me understand what thoughts were rooted in scarcity.  What was making me feel that I had to do more, be more, or have more? Who decided what "more" was?  Moving from scarcity to abundance is a  process. It is continuous questioning.

In this video I walk in the fields, feel the weight of the headdress, and dance with myself in nature.


yvonne shortt teracotta sculptures


Rope. Terracotta. Paint.


yvonne shortt terracotta and rope sculpture


Rope. Terracotta.Paint


yvonne shortt terracotta and paint sculpture

Scarcity To Abundance

Shells. Terracotta. Rope.


Be The Museum Framework

In any hostile situation the mind must adapt. 

Museums can be great spaces for artists to have their art.  However, there are some negative aspects like the fact artists usually only get in when they are dead, years spent trying to be selected for museums, the work in some museums comes from deep rooted colonialization, and often woman of color like myself are not often represented. With this in mind, I started with a guiding question.  


How can I remake the museum to work for me as a woman of color?   How can I get rid of ego and hierarchy within myself?


I kept coming back to the idea that as an artist I create the art so I am the Museum. With this in mind, the Be the Museum project was born. I turned my space into a museum and documented the framework last year. The project is a two year project. Because of this framework documentation others are able to help me strengthen the framework and use it to create their own museums.

Be The Museum. View the framework below.

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