Show Statement There are emotional attachments to benefiting from racial privilege and this show asked artists to contemplate what those benefits are personally. Stepping into the dominant racial narrative is a script available to most Americans, but in no way is it equal. The show is not a celebration of whiteness; instead it’s asking what are the opportunity costs attached to capitalizing on dominance. Anger, amusement, hope, confusion, shame, envy, and maybe even pride play a role when we are able to take advantage in ways not always available to everyone equally. A thorough examination of how we personally benefit when we step into narratives of privilege is necessary if we want to create new scripts in how we navigate racially. Scarily, this means we have to sometimes stop congratulating ourselves and get a bit more introspective.
White Pride? is a 2 month group show with 14 artists participating, 7 in December for part 1 and 7 in January for part 2.
Nadia Buyse D.I.Y. Trying
Statement Let’s talk about privilege.
I think based on the color of my skin some people expect me to talk about my race or perhaps give them permissive inclusivity into the emotional state of being not white. Yeah, I’m not going to do that. And you know why? I don’t have to. It’s 2012 and we live in America, artists like Glen Ligon and Adrian Piper already did that. So what am I left with from that experience? What is my responsibility as a contemporary artist of color? Well first of all it is to take up space and assess what is around me. Once I’ve asserted my space as a woman of color in a dominantly white place it becomes apparent to me that race isn’t as much of a defining factor as one’s socio-economic standing.
I locate myself as an artist who makes work not for commercial galleries, despite the fact that I make a multitude of work ranging from music to live video installations, like the one in this gallery today. This renders me as someone who is not dependent on a capitalistic exchange within the art market where I make product to sell.
When did intellectualized aesthetics become a commodity? And if it is a commodity (commodity defined as a necessary product within a buy/sell context) how do so many artists like myself sustain outside of the capitalistic realm where art exists?
Bio Nadia Buyse is a trans-disciplinary visual artist and musician living in Portland. As a musician she has been in at least 30 bands she can remember. Nadia has toured the United States and Europe, playing in a range of spaces from music festivals, punk clubs, house shows and discotheques. She has also exhibited work internationally and nationally as well, spaces ranging from local Portland Galleries to dOCUMENTA (13). She has recently received an MFA in Visual Studies from PNCA, participated in the ART STAYS residency program in Ptuj, Slovenia and Free the Word fest in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Chris Freeman Chris Freeman's Review of Society, 2012
Description Chris Freeman's Review of Society, 2012 is a monolog focusing on some of the most notable achievements in civil rights in the last generation. Since it is delivered by a member of the most mainstream, patriarchal, and powerful class; the piece becomes more about what is not said. While the positive advancements discussed are true, what is absent or glossed over is just as revealing.
Bio Chris Freeman's video work deals with ideas of masculinity and normalcy as a white, straight American male. Often taking the form of self-portraits, Freeman's constructed situations seek to portray the contradictions in a social group that is so normal it is not defined as a group. The result is often humorous and ironic, but multi-layered, as he uses his won far-from-perfect male body to show unspoken pressures of strength, vigilance, and competitiveness.
Sam Guerrero Will Work for Representation
Statement My relationship to my ethnicity is fractured. My name in fact is one of the only things that truly identify me as Hispanic. Ask me about my culture I can rattle off some folklore, name some historical figures, display my familiarity with cultural stereotypes and express love for its cuisine. Yet I often experience a longing for a richer connection to this aspect of my identity, which creates a conflict between this longing, and what I am comfortable with. I’m comfortable with being white. Yet I often find myself in the position of being identified as Hispanic only to disappoint or surprise my identifiers when they realize how far I am from being such. As an artist my name creates an expectation that my work will take on a presumed identity. When in fact much of my work is about the longing and failure, and not as much about the being.
Bio Sam Guerrero sorts through the multiple layers of insecurities that exist within the multi-dimensional structure of his identity for inspiration. His work utilizes the familiar language found within America’s visual culture – injected with enough peculiarity to question the validity of its content. Guerrero spotlights the incongruities that he sees in his own experiences and the environments that have perpetuated them to him. Guerrero's work seeks to question the existing sources of “normality” by trying to expose the aspects that should be questioned but instead are often accepted.
Sam Guerrero was born in East Los Angeles California where he lived most of his life. He attended Azusa Pacific University as a marketing major but shortly after arriving changed over to art. After graduating he began a ten-year career up and down the west coast as a high school art teacher. He ended up in Portland Oregon in 2005 where he now resides with his lovely wife. Guerrero served as a designer and curator for Tender Loving Empire for three years and still holds a position on their artist roster.
Statement Mark Martinez is concerned with the inevitable conflation of demographics with regards to representation and actual social change. Currently the country’s demographic shift towards a “minority-majority” population is attributed to a growing Latino community, yet much of this growth is portrayed as being comprised of a newly arrived immigrant population. What demographic projectionists often leave out of the picture is the large population of Latinos who have been living in America since before it was the United States. Concurrently, weekend warrior demographers often negate the salience of the assimilationist narrative within the United States; a narrative which functions to legitimize white hegemony.
Coconuts, placed within the context of White Pride? in the broadest sense represent the growing presence of Latinos within the American polity. For my purposes, coconuts also represent my own personal navigation of white space as a Latino. At this point in my life I need to account for not only the complicity I’ve yielded unto white supremacy but also the relationships and status I’ve gained as “one of the good ones”—something I used to tell myself.
My points of pride would be my valuation of an Art School education, the relationship I have with my white girlfriend, and a propensity to ingratiate myself into white circles. The racial status quo implicates me, as a dark skin Latino and is reflected in my very desire to be here in the Northwest. For most of my life I’ve been whistling Vivaldi—but even that is a privilege, and is something to be proud of. I pessimistically believe that traditional America will continue to live on in brown face. Brown Is The New White isn’t a call for racial authenticity, it’s a call for a reality check.
Bio Mark Martinez is an artist originally from San Antonio, Texas and has been living in Portland since 2008. In moving to the Northwest Martinez has become increasingly interested in identity and how it functions in contemporary US society. Specifically, Martinez' work consists of analyzing the process of Racialization and the real threat White-supremacy holds over an individual's psyche. In personalizing the political – Martinez aims to expand upon a conversation that would otherwise be left ignored in a generation that fancies itself “Post-Racial”.
Mark Martinez is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Portland State University. Martinez received his BFA in Intermedia, with a focus in Video and Printmaking at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Michael Martínez Communion
Statement As a light-skinned Mexican-American participating within the Portland artist circuit, Michael Martinez wants to be white. Re-embracing himself with his lord and savior, blond Jesus Christ, Martinez has decided to begin to take steps away from his Mexican-Indio, roots through the ritual practice ofCommunion. By ingesting an American delicacy (the Twinkie), Martinez hopes to cleanse himself of his biased brown complaints, his savage Indian history, and his poor performance in standardized testing. Could the Twinkie really be the white savior Martinez is looking for? Could the American values perpetuated by the Twinkie, really help Martinez to transcend his brown identity? This Communion is an experiment in the demystification of whiteness.
Bio Michael Martínez is an interdisciplinary artist, primarily working within the realms of sculpture and animated-arts. Examining the salience of racialized identity within contemporary US society, Martínez utilizes the visual language as a means to witness the disconnect between diversity and equality. Specifically, Martínez explores the function of stereotypes – how they come to inform law and the imagination of North America – in the age of state-sanctioned racial profiling. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Michael Martínez is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Intermedia, at the Pacific Northwest of College of Art.
Christine Taylor 100 Shades of Bo Derek
Statement When approached to contribute to this exhibition the first image that entered my mind was Bo Derek from the film ‘10’, running towards me with long blond corn rows, wearing a nude colored swim suit, sporting a dark tan. At 9-years-old his is my first memory of viewing corn rows on someone White, it is also my first memory of understanding the want to have darker skin, to have braids, to be something other than what I was.
‘100 Shades of Gray’ is an exploration in the scientific perception of skin tone combined with the emotional desire to alter it. It also plays off of the cultural falseness in the stereotype that politically correct Caucasians claim to not see race or color in skin.
Bio Christine Taylor is from Seattle, WA and a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and adjuct instructor of Fashion Photography at The Art Institute of Portland. Along with being an artist she is presently a professional photographer working in advertising and editorial. Her experience in commercial photography and history as a photojournalist fuels her conceptual art. Her work has been exhibited around the United States and featured in publications around the globe. Primarily working with photography and video, her conceptual art explores identity through philosophy and is greatly influenced by the use of the body as object, or the other way around; object as body.
How does one navigate their positionality? What privileges and disadvantages define and shape who we are? Privileged to be here seeks to challenge the viewer to better understand the relationship between power and disadvantage that shape us down to our core.
Chloé Womack is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and curator whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Canada. She is the recipient of grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland State University, and Broken City Lab in Windsor, Ontario. From 2010-2012, she was Curatorial Coordinator at the Littman & White Galleries, and since 2010, has served as Co-Director of RECESS, an alternative art space in southeast Portland dedicated to nurturing emergent and experimental art practices, developing new forms of cultural inquiry, and sparking a discourse of change beyond the art community. She is Co-Editor and Founder of the satirical event-based publication ROGUE. In collaboration with Broken City Lab, she is editing the forthcoming publication Doing Our Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices, which will be released in early 2013. She graduated with Honors from PSU’s BFA program in 2012, and is currently working towards her MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research at PNCA and the Ford Institute for Visual Education.