DESIGN PITCH | SCREENPRINTING
This was a design pitch I gave to my professors during my junior year at school, as a way of qualifying for the opportunity to have an art show in the main gallery space my senior year. My show concept changed drastically over the course of my internship in South Africa, but the artist statement, images, and screen-printing video below demonstrate the creative process that was the initial journey and proposal for my show.
I began this artistic exploration by looking at my own personal journey with race. One of my first encounters with the notion of diversity happened when I was a small child. A song lyric captured my attention and mystified me: “...we are a skin kaleidoscope.”
I desire to explore kaleidoscope patterns that spiral and rotate, reflect and shift, in conjunction with the human form, primarily silhouettes of bodies and faces. I want to somewhat confuse the viewer by changing and altering color and form so that they then ask themselves: why am I trying to assign a racial label to people? Why do I feel the need to box them into a category? I want to mainly utilize circles and possibly spirals as the primary shape within these kaleidoscope designs.
I chose circles because I have found myself on a circular, cyclical path of questions as I wrestle with this topic. I ask one question which leads to another, which leads to another. There seem to be a lot of holes when it comes to the subject of race and diversity: holes and gaps in our thinking, loopholes and ‘beating around the bush’ discussion in regards to literature and policies surrounding the issue, and sinkholes of racism that we find ourselves plunging our feet deep into.
Cape Town, where I will be traveling for my upcoming internship this summer and fall, is still battling (both relationally and geographically) against being divided on the basis of color lines: black, colored (a South African term for mixed race), and white. This is where the concept of the three squares in my pieces comes into play.
These squares are meant to reflect cages of entrapment and ensnaring stereotypes that are still in place years after the apartheid ended in roughly 1994. I find these cages and racial barriers to be both incredibly saddening and intriguing. Race is a human construction that has led to deeply ingrained practices of bias within not just Cape Town, but ultimately across the globe.
One of my main questions that I am constantly grappling with and want others to do the same is: why did the beauty within diversity get lost? Why do our varying levels of melanin lead to animosity and tension instead of appreciation and praise? I am also struck by the parallel in artistic terms for color and simultaneously words and phrases that now are racially charged: dark, light, white, colored, pale, black, etc. Through my work, I wish to explore this interplay.
I want viewers to recognize and name the beautiful, intricate, complexities of our diversity. This dialogue is a continual process of being broken and then restored, just as each circle loops around and comes back to its beginning point. I hope that through my work I am able to articulate the tainted place we live in and yet along with that, a hope for future reconciliation and our dependency on a holy grace.