The Invention of Whiteness
White by Law
Projected onto a chalkboard, in a semi-classroom setting as a re-education of things that aren’t learned in school, this silent animation examines Whiteness as invented through the legal system.
Referencing White by Law, by Ian Haney Lopez, as a guide point, this didactic animation illustrates the four methods the legal system used to determine race, followed by an overview of significant cases. The Individuals involved in these cases are unknown heroes because they argued for equal rights. The effects of these ruling are perpetuated in modern day society. My desire as an artist was to make visible this significant history.
Much of the animations are literally written into being through drawing and writing that appear, as animated, onto book and paper forms. Other animation techniques used in this include: frame by frame metamorphosis, silhouettes puppets, painted cells, and cut paper cutouts (many from history books).
Passenger, cuts between two stories set in 1914; the “Pageant of the Melting Pot” ritual held at the Ford factory English assimilation school for Immigrants and the extinction of the last passenger pigeon, Martha. The passenger pigeon was a communal bird that traveled in enormous flocks that turned the sky black, in an almost mystical occurrence. Thought to be an endless resource, the birds went extinct due to the invention of the telephone and its impact on hunter’s ability to track the flocks.
This animation looks at how capitalist industry, ignorance, and opportunity were driving forces for: assimilation of new immigrants into assuming a white racial identity and the extinction of the passenger pigeon.
There are a variety of animation techniques in this including; animated bird seed; cut paper animation using early 1900 advertisements as cutouts; watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings; puppets; and animated drawing.
Installed within a gaudy mirror frame meant to evoke self reflection or refer to the very interior spaces in the animation, this animation is a metaphor for whiteness as void that can’t be filled.
Created as an infinite loop, magazine cut outs of collected windows, mirrors, and screens, open into each other endlessly never arriving anywhere. The openings are a void that remain vague and unattainable.
The Cutouts are made from home design magazines/books and advertisements selling “new” both emphasizing a constant improvement of domestic space and self. Matching the animation, the music is repetitive with slight variations.
The Racial Matrix
An epic animated montage, “the racial matrix” animation examines “the matrix” in the United States that perpetuated racial constructs through Naturalization, Segregation, Racial Lines, and Miscegenation. With scenes ranging from parts of MLK jr’s last speech “I’ve been to the mountaintop” to the contrasting landscape of St. Louis depicting inequity, and an animated collage representing discriminatory loans, segregated land ownership, unequal jobs, education, and opportunity, this animation comes to no conclusion, but rather puts forth a series of images left up to the the viewer’s interpretation and synthesis.
This animation utilizes a variety of animation techniques including: frame by frame marker, cut paper, and puppets. The visuals are accompanied by a somber soundtrack recorded by Vernacular String Trio.
Comprised of a series of jello cutouts from cookbooks, many self published by “Jello”, this stop motion animation explores Jello as a metaphor for “whiteness”.
When a St. Louis based activist asked a group of white people what the food of their culture was- the only thing they could think of was jello. Contemplating this idea, I became further intrigued by how Jello as a substance was originally transparent, but assumed the color/taste/course of that which was added inside. This reminded me of how whiteness encompassed and overtook certain ethnic groups or denied groups from entering its domain. Whiteness continued to mutate its definition as a means of maintaining power. Jello was also a food emblematic of middle class parties, the artistic prowess of the housewife, and a desire to fit in.
The entire piece was animated in the style of an advertisement. Vernacular String Trio created a catchy 50’s jazz soundtrack that matched the rhythm of the animation.