In Between: Biracial themes in Art

Artist: Adrian Piper

“Adrian Margaret Smith Piper (b. 1948) is a first-generation Conceptual artist and analytic philosopher. She attended the New Lincoln School throughout grammar school and high school, and the Art Students’ League during high school. She began exhibiting her artwork internationally at the age of twenty, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969. While continuing to produce and exhibit her artwork, she received a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Musicology from the City College of New York in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 1981 under the supervision of John Rawls; and studied Kant and Hegel with Dieter Henrich at the University of Heidelberg in 1977-1978. Her formal education lasted a total of 27 years.” 1


(1988; video installation)
This video installation by Adrian Piper is a favorite of mine. It is about being Black and having to explain that to people. Many people found this to be very controversial. As a biracial woman, I very much so empathized  with Piper’s illustration of the difficulties of being a multiracial person.
Vanilla Nightmares #13
(1986; charcoal & oil crayon drawing on newsprint, 22 x 13.75″)
“Und wenn nun?” translates to “And what if,” and it is a drawing on pages of the New York Times. This piece fits into my exhibit because it illustrates the difference between a white and black identity. The articles in the newspaper also help to reiterate that point.
Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features
(1981; pencil on paper, 20.3 x 25.4 cm). Collection Eileen Harris Norton
This piece is relavent because in it, Piper draws herself in a way that exaggerates her Black facial features. I find this piece interesting because Piper often tells storys about how people question her Black identity, and this piece shows that.

Artist: Kip Fulbeck

Kip Fulbeck is an American artist, slam poet and filmmaker. He is the author of Permanence: Tattoo Portraits; Part Asian, 100% Hapa; Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography; and the recently released Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids, as well as the director of a dozen short films including Banana Split and Lilo & Me.

Kip has been featured on CNN, MTV, The TODAY Show, and PBS, and has performed and exhibited in over 20 countries. He speaks nationwide on identity, multiraciality and pop culture — mixing together spoken word, stand-up comedy, political activism and personal stories.

A challenging and inspirational teacher, Kip is a professor of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is the recipient of the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is also an avid surfer, guitar player, motorcycle rider, ocean lifeguard, and pug enthusiast. A complete overachiever despite being only half Chinese, he is also a world-ranked Masters swimmer.” 1

These images are from The Hapa Project.

“Once a derogatory label derived from the Hawaiian word for “half,” Hapa has since been embraced as a term of pride by many whose mixed racial heritage includes Asian or Pacific Island descent. Kip Fulbeck began The Hapa Project as a forum for Hapas to answer the question “What are you?” in their own words and be pictured in simple head-on portraits.  Traveling throughout the country, he photographed over 1200 people from all walks of life – from babies to adults, construction workers to rock stars, gangbangers to pro surfers, schoolteachers to porn stars, engineers to comic book artists. The project now manifests as a book, traveling photographic exhibition, and online community.”2
ha•pa (hä’pä) adj. 1. Slang. of mixed ethnic heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry. n. 2. Slang. a person of such ancestry. [der./Hawaiian: hapa haole. (half white)]
The Hapa Project
The project way started in 2001 and was photographed all over the country.


I enjoy these portraits because they are very simple but effective in illustrating the different ways that biracial persons see themselves. I also like how the artist included statements from the people in the photographs.

Artist: Tony Gleaton

Tony Gleaton was born in 1948 in Detroit, the youngest  son of a elementary school teacher and a police officer. In 1959 his family moved to California where he lived till joining the Marine Corps in 1967 at the age of 19.  After completing a tour of duty in Vietnam he returned to California and a undergraduate admission to UCLA.   Becoming interested in photography in 1974 he pursued the interest on his own, eventually traveling to New York where he worked as a photographic assistant and various other jobs as he aspired to become a fashion photographer.  In 1980 he left New York,  hitchhiking  throughout the  American West doing odd jobs and photographing Cowboys. Finally concentrating on Native American ranch hands and Blacks Rodeo riders.   He stopped in Texas where he was befriended by a group of Black Rodeo performers. Those times in Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Kansas and Colorado eventually  formed the core of his COWBOYS: Reconstructing an American Myth.  A series of Photos and portraits of African-, Native-,  Mexican and Euro-American Cowboys.”1

Artist Statement: “I love ‘the other’.  I define “the other” as those people who are separated from any dominant cultural group.  My subjects differ from project to project yet there is this common theme.  In revealing these others I reveal us all. My work examines our common elements and the disparities, which in making us different, also binds us together in the human condition. These photographs are metaphors for the state of grace which lies within us all.

The photographs which I create are as much an effort to define my own life, with its heritage encompassing Africa and Europe, as it is an endeavor to throw open the discourse on the broader aspects of “mestizaje” … the “assimilation” of Asians, Africans and Europeans with indigenous Americans.

The images I produce, most often, are ones in which people directly and openly look into the camera, yet the most important aspect of these portraits is the giving a narrative voice by visual means to people deemed invisible by the greater part of society and in doing so  deliberately crafting an `alternative iconography’ of what beauty and family and love and goodness might stand for, one that is inclusive not exclusive.” 2



Africa’s Legacy in Mexico, Mexico c. 1989
For more images:
Africa’s Legacy in Central America, c. 1992 – 1996
For more images:
These images from Tony Gleaton’s travels are very enlightening. I like that they provide a historical look at the influence on slave trade in these areas. These images show also how both cultures had to assimilate to to the other. For example, the hair of some of the persons is certainly typically black hair. Also, the Hispanic culture is still intact. I think that these images illustrate how one can be 100% of each of their ethnic backgrounds.
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Migrant Mother – Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother is a photograph by Dorothea Lange taken of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California.1 Lange was hired by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the Great Depression because of the popularity of her photographs of homeless and unemployed people.

During this time, photographs were considered to portray the truth, and Lange’s images, as well as the photographs from other FSA photographers, were done to show the true situation that many were in as a result of the Great Depression.

“Photographs such as Dorothea Lange’s 1936 portrait “Migrant Mother” and Walker Evans’s 1936 series depicting the faces and homes of Alabama sharecroppers have become icons of the era, pictures that in their directness and simplicity record the conditions of poverty while also celebrating the persistent human spirit of survival in even the most difficult of circumstances.”2

While these images did show people in their situation, they were definitely composed by the photographer to convey a particular reaction from the viewer. While this image by Lange is the most popular, it is one of six images that she took of Florence Owens Thompson and her children. As Lange was taking the photographs, she went closer and closer to her subjects.

























When looking at photojournalism, it is important to consider the role of the photographer. Although they may not have posed their subjects, they choose what to and not to include in their images. Why are more people familiar with the one image? I think that it in particular adds a human face to the depression. While the woman has so little, she looks rather determined in the image, and because it is cropped you, you focus on her face and expression more than in the other images. The main image was also retouched to remove the woman’s fingers on the tent post. The image to the left is a unretouched version of the image.


“Like other historical sources, they are interpretations, versions of reality that document facts but also express ideas and opinions and tell stories. As the creators of images photographers are always mindful that their pictures are to be viewed by an audience. They choose particular perspectives and poses to convey messages and use the frame of the photograph to focus attention on certain information while also cutting out “extraneous” material”. 3

The FSA photographers were hired to show people in the city a specific angle of the Depression. “Like many governmental agencies, the FSA set up a publicity department to help explain to the public and Congress what its programs were trying to accomplish and the problems it was trying to solve. But because of the desperation of the Depression and the missionary zeal of the New Dealers, the FSA went far beyond almost any other agency before or since in documenting this era.” 4 To obtain the support of citizens, they wanted images that evoked emotion and apathy towards those in the images. This image is particularly interesting to me because I like to think about the role of the photographer in the image, and I believe that it is very important to think about that, especially when viewing journalistic images.





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Candide – Voltaire

excerpt from chapter 6 “How the Portuguese Made a Superb Auto-De-Fe to Prevent Any Future Earthquakes, and How Candide Underwent Public Flagellation”

In consequence thereof they had seized on a Biscayan for marrying his godmother, and on two Portuguese for taking out the bacon of a larded pullet they were eating; after dinner they came and secured Dr. Pangloss, and his pupil Candide, the one for speaking his mind, and the other for seeming to approve what he had said. They were conducted to separate apartments, extremely cool, where they were never incommoded with the sun. Eight days afterwards they were each dressed in a sanbenito, and their heads were adorned with paper mitres. The mitre and sanbenito worn by Candide were painted with flames reversed and with devils that had neither tails nor claws; but Dr. Pangloss’s devils had both tails and claws, and his flames were upright. In these habits they marched in procession, and heard a very pathetic sermon, which was followed by an anthem, accompanied by bagpipes. Candide was flogged to some tune, while the anthem was being sung; the Biscayan and the two men who would not eat bacon were burned, and Pangloss was hanged, which is not a common custom at these solemnities. The same day there was another earthquake, which made most dreadful havoc.

Candide, amazed, terrified, confounded, astonished, all bloody, and trembling from head to foot, said to himself, “If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others? If I had only been whipped, I could have put up with it, as I did among the Bulgarians; but, not withstanding, oh my dear Pangloss! my beloved master! thou greatest of philosophers! that ever I should live to see thee hanged, without knowing for what! O my dear Anabaptist, thou best of men, that it should be thy fate to be drowned in the very harbor! O Miss Cunegund, you mirror of young ladies! that it should be your fate to have your body ripped open!”

Candide by Voltaire is a very good illustration of the rise in the middle class that led to the French Revolution. It was written and published in January 1759 in France. Voltaire often addresses the hypocrisy of religion, corruption and power. Works like his were often satirical and pushed for social reforms. “In Candide, probably the best known of his copious writings, Voltaire nibbled away at the pillars of society and the old regime and left them shaking and rotten for the Revolution to pull down.”1 Many of Voltaire’s works were censored, which is why he often wrote using a pseudonym or anonymously. Still he was imprisoned in the Bastille, almost certainly fueling his writing. 2

In Candide, and many other of his works, Voltaire mocks the two main forces he was trying to reform, the church and the king. “In 18th century France, all power lay in the hands of the King and the Church. The Church taught that all authority to determine what was right and wrong was given to the King by God.” 3 In the above excerpt, Candide and Pangloss are persecuted by the Inquisition, Pangloss for speaking his mind and Candide for listening to him.  This scene reflects on Voltaire’s thoughts on both censorship and the law. Candide hasn’t actually done anything when he is persecuted, and Pangloss has merely spoken his mind. While Voltaire’s work was banned, that only made it even more popular with the bourgeois of France. “Due to its scandalous nature, Candide was published clandestinely and anonymously, and its exact publication date is unknown. However, in mid-January of 1759, Voltaire’s publisher sent 1,000 copies of Candide to Paris, and by late February Voltaire’s identity was revealed. The police were ordered to seize all copies of Candidethat could be found, but the controversy only served to further fuel the book’s popularity – and by the end of the year, at least seventeen editions of the work had been published.” 4

Voltaire also satirizes religion and the joint efforts of the Church and King to maintain their power. “Thus, it was a system of mind control, and as long as the masses believed in the divine right of kings, the King and the Church, and those who held positions in their service (the nobles and upper clergy) maintained their privileged position over the general population.” 5 He often presents religious figures in absurd ways, such as a Franciscan friar who is also a jewel thief and a Catholic Inquisitor with a mistress.

It was works like these that influenced the French to overthrow their government and to storm the Bastille. And I find it very noble that Voltaire risked so much and was often imprisoned in his quest for the social reform of France. I believe it was works like these that caused the spark that began the French Revolution. I chose Candide because I not only appreciate the witty satire, I also appreciate the reason that it was written. I also think that Voltaire had a lot he could have lost in writing it; he was a wealthy man, but he engaged in behaviors that caused him to be imprisoned and could have easily gotten him killed (especially because it would have been perfectly within the jurisdiction of the law to do so).


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The Exchange of Princesses – Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was connected to many different royals, and he became the court painter of many different royal courts. “In Mantua, he was attached to the court of Vincenzo Gonzaga, then sent throughout Italy to paint copies for him, and voyaged to Spain in 1603-4 with gifts from Vincenzo to Philip III. The young artist’s other major Italian patronage and study areas were Genoa and Rome, where he was close to the art of the Carracci” ( And while traveling before he settled at Gonzaga’s courts, he saw the paintings of Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto and was very influenced by them. 1 He later was appointed to the courts of the “Infanta Isabella and the Archduke Ferdinand, Spanish viceroys of the Netherlands, Charles I in England, Marie de’ Médicí in France, and Philip IV in Spain” ( Ruben spent a lot of his life traveling to different courts, but this experience gave him the ability to create many large works because of his many royal commissions. His travels also gave him exposure to many different artists that influenced his work.

His commission by Marie de’ Médicí in France gave him international fame and continued his role as painter and diplomat for many courts. Marie commissioned him to paint two allegorical cycles commemorating the life of her and her late husband. One of these from the first cycle, The Exchange of Princesses, was created sometime between 1621 (when it was commissioned) and 1625 (when it was installed in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris). The cycle was made up of 21 different paintings. He never finished the second piece because Marie was exiled from France in 1630 by her son, Louis XIII (

The Exchange of Princesses definitely showcases by so many royals sought out Rubens. I like this piece because he takes a seemingly boring concept and makes it beautiful and visually interesting. “The Exchange of Princesses celebrates the double marriage of the Habsburg Infanta Anna of Spain to Louis XIII of France and Louis XIII’s sister, Isabella Bourbon, to future king of Spain, Phillip IV on 9 November 1615″ (’_Medici_cycle). The way that Rubens painted the piece definitely reflects the goal of these marriages to connect France and Spain. The fact that the two princesses are holding hands further reflects the goal of these unions. Also, the allegorical use of gods in the painting reflects that this union was seen as very important. The gods are giving the princesses gifts, and they also seem to be blessing the union of Spain and France.

1. Belkin, Kristin Lohse (1998). Rubens. Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-7148-3412-2.

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The Tower of Babel – Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elderl’s piece The Tower of Babel was certainly affected by the Reformation. Before the Renaissance and Reformation, religious art was inspired by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Icons made up a lot of the art, and iconic representations of Christ, Mary and other saints were common. This changed greatly as a result of the Reformation. Because the Reformation focused on personal relationships with God and emphasized salvation through divine grace. As with Brugel’s The Tower of Babel, representations of Biblical stories were common. Additionally, this piece represents the Reformed dislike of arrogance and idolatry. Also, in the Biblical story, the Babylonians were building the tower to that they could reach the heavens to worship them. During the Reformation, it was emphasized that only God should be worshipped, and there was a wave of iconoclasm. The tower also resembles the Roman Colosseum, which the Reformers saw as a symbol of opulence and greed. And Bruegel probably painted it as a symbol of God punishing pride to reflect his feelings toward the Catholic church.

Bruegel painted this piece c. 1563, but I cannot seem to find where he painted it. It currently is at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. I like this piece because first, I find it visually pleasing. Although the tower is partially destroyed, it is beautifully represented in the painting. I also find it interesting that the scenario painted is so beautiful. The day is calm and bright, the water is beautiful. It seems like Bruegel was pleased with the destruction of the tower. In other representations of the Tower of Babel that I can think of has dark, menacing clouds and a very grey, dim look in general. And I find it so interesting that Bruegels is illustrated so beautifully.

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First blog

I spend about a week living in the Salt Flats of Nevada at Black Rock City (BRC) for the Burning Man festival. I still have dust in everything: my hair, clothes, lungs, etc …. It was completely worth it. Actually, my camera is full of dust as well, I am amazed that I was able to download my photos off of it. As this course is about the appreciation of art (visual, auditory, and otherwise), I feel that this is an appropriate first post. BRC is a city of 50,000 people that is created for a single week. Every aspect of the city has an artistic intention, and it is amazing the extent of art that is created in not only an extremely harsh environment, but also for such a short amount of time. Regardless, it is impossible not to be in awe of the artistic forces that form the city and make it a place completely open to any type of creative expression.

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Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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