Lamont Joseph White’s ‘Skiing in Color’ Challenges Lack of Diversity in Skiing

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Lamont Joseph White and his painting ‘Squad’ (Courtesy Lamont Joseph White)

By Paige Gardner, Assistant Arts Editor

 

The paintings in the phenomenal series “Skiing in Color,” by artist Lamont Joseph White, were first exhibited in Park City at the end of last year. The critically acclaimed paintings are divided into two parts, Black skiers of all ages on the slopes and revered civil rights leaders donning winter wear and ski goggles. 

Adding Much-Needed Color to a White, Winter Landscape 

As an artist, I reflect what resonates with me personally. Being a Black snowboarder who lives in Park City, I was having these conversations with myself about my art,” White said. “I began to think about the presence of Black people where they are extreme minorities. We’re conditioned to think a certain way and think through a certain lens. I think it’s important through my art to help to alter that narrative.”

Lamont Joseph White’s paintings on display at Ski Utah Headquarters. (Photo by Chris Pearson | Courtesy Ski Utah)

Bringing Our Heroes to the Mountaintops 

One of the most compelling elements of White’s exhibition is the four portraits of past Civil Rights leaders. These pieces feature Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks clad in ski gear against a vibrant, colorful background. These artworks are visually stunning and the resolute expressions of the figures send a powerful message. 

His portrait of Dr. King is titled “Mountaintop Sunrise” and is a tribute to the famous last speech given by the late Civil Rights leader. The themes in that speech — of summiting the mountain and reaching a place of equality, love and joy — are a parallel of the symbolism and emotion in White’s work. 

The Road Ahead 

Issues of white supremacy, discrimination and homogeneity did not just arise last summer, and will probably not be solved by the next one. In working towards a more inclusive environment on the slopes in light of the events of the past year, White said, “I’m really trying to help those decision-makers who may not have brown skin to know that this is not a trend. They should understand that it’s not something that just suddenly dawned upon us, it’s something that we lived with.” He said, “I like to say it’s not a trend, it’s an opportunity. I’m in it for the long haul.”

White also stresses the importance of seeing color. “When a Black or brown person sees themselves as a doctor, lawyer or a president or a nurse. They say, ‘Well I can do that thing’ because color does matter. I’m really an advocate for seeing color,” he said. “The important part is what we do with it, how we think about it. One of my goals is to say to Black people who would never even see themselves on the mountain because they don’t feel it’s part of their norm, they don’t feel it’s part of their culture — it’s certainly not normalized for them. I’m saying come join me.”

Additional information on White’s “Skiing in Color” can be found on his website, and selections from the series can be viewed in person or online at Ski Utah headquarters.

 

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