Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race

The Wing’s 2013 race exhibit revisits a topic the museum first tackled in 2004, in a show called “Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race.”

“Beyond Talk” grew out of community discussions about race and racism, precipitated by President Clinton’s call for a “national conversation on race” and the aftermath of 9/11. It was the first exhibit produced by The Wing that reached out beyond the Asian Pacific American community.

Exhibition postcard; image by Ronald Hall, “Self-Portrait”

Overview

The 2004 exhibition:

  • Included 12 artists from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The artists came from African American, Arab American, Asian American, Hispanic, Latino American, Native American, and European American communities.
  • Included 20 different artworks, including mixed media, paintings, photographs, installation, and video.
  • Involved more than 120 volunteers.
  • Featured strong interactive components  exercises, prompts, activities  encouraging visitors to respond, reflect, and take action in their communities.

Goals

The 2004 exhibition sought to:

  • Make tangible the issue of race and race relations.
  • Provide participants tools to proactively/fundamentally begin to change racist attitudes and institutions through cooperation, advocacy, and action.
  • Promote greater understanding.
  • Respond to racism’s adverse affect on communities.
  • Engage people from different perspectives to share their own experiences.
  • Inspire ongoing positive action within Seattle community.
  • Include various racial communities in addition to Asian Pacific Americans.

What people had to say

Beyond Talk was visited by people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, and received both local and national attention.

Visitors
  • “I learned more about my Cantonese heretige [sic]. It was very fun! The artwork is very good! Proud to be Chinese.”
  • In response to “This is how I will TAKE ACTION!”: “I will respect all races no matter who they are.”
Artists
  • Art is an opportunity to explore questions that are hard to resolve. ­–Deborah F. Lawrence
  • Artwork is not a judgment and it’s not an attack, but simply an observation intended to facilitate dialogue about issues pertinent to the community. –Paul McCall
Press
  • “…it’s successful because of the talk it generates. This exhibit manages a feat rare in the museum world: It encourages dialogue without patronizing the audience.” –Regina Hackett, Art Critic, “Wing Luke exhibit fosters dialogue about racial differences,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 3, 2004
  • “encourages people who have different perspectives to share their thoughts and experiences about race” –Diem Huynh, “Race: talk the talk, walk the walk,” Northwest Asian Weekly, May 8-14, 2004

For more about the 2004 exhibit, stay tuned for reflections on this blog from artists and community members who were directly involved.

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