It’s time to get looking at and talking about art!

Beginning next week, we’ll be posting images to the blog and inviting discussion in the mode of the New York Times column “What’s Going On in This Picture,” which is modeled on Visual Thinking Strategies.

This idea is that you look at a work of art, develop your own ideas about what is happening in the art, and then share those ideas with others.

If you’d like to share your own image or artwork for viewing and discussion on the blog, let us know! After several people have discussed the work, you’ll have an opportunity to add your perspective.

As always, thanks for reading — and keep your eye out for art!

 

This gallery contains 6 photos.

By John Armstrong I’m a photographer who has two photos in the upcoming Wing Luke show “Under My Skin.” I believe that one of the roles of contemporary photography and art in general is to educate, provoke and promote discussions about various issues. One recurring theme I’m interested in is what I’ll broadly call advertising. …

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Pardon our silence this last month — the art selection panel has been busyyyyyy! After a month of meetings and a great deal of thoughtful conversation, the panel chose 27 artists for the “Under My Skin” exhibition.

The call for art brought in a wide array of talented artists with powerful pieces. We received 87 submissions for the exhibit and over 300 individual pieces of art, a record for The Wing! We were fortunate to have so many people help spread the word, and the resulting list of art for the show could not have happened without the hard work of so many people over the course of the past year. Thank you!

Join Us in May!

With just one more Community Advisory Meeting to go, we’re fast approaching the exhibit opening in May. Mark you calendars for the reception May 9 and the official opening May 10. We would love for you to join us.

In the meantime, here’s the list of the show’s artists to get you even more excited. Keep an eye on the blog for their work and thoughts around the exhibit. If you’d like to contribute your own work and thoughts, please be in touch!

Artists for “Under My Skin: Exploring Race in the 21st Century”:

  • John Armstrong
  • Jenny Asarnow
  • Wanda Benvenutti
  • Jasmine Brown
  • Kathy Budway
  • Minh Carrico
  • Lemuel Charley
  • Ling Chun
  • Mary Coss
  • Carina del Rosario
  • Tatiana Garmendia
  • Erin Genia
  • Ronald Hall
  • Chau Huynh
  • Akiko Jackson
  • Laura Kina
  • Naima Lowe
  • Fumi Matsumoto
  • Kathleen McHugh
  • Darius Morrison
  • Cahn Nguyen
  • Polly Purvis
  • Jennifer Smith
  • Joseph Songco
  • Tim Stensland
  • Stefani Thornton

By Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor

In 2006, I wrote the poem “The Politics of Beauty” in response to a Filipino friend’s lament that her young daughter had been told she was lucky because of her light skin and hair. As a mother of Euro-Filipino children, I too was horrified that someone, even in a well-meaning way, would teach a child such a racist viewpoint. As the poem developed, however, I began to realize that the poem was really for all women of color, especially Pinays, who still believed that their bodies—short, dark, flat-nosed, slanted-eyed—marked them as less desirable, less intelligent.

Time and again, I have heard the stories of Pinays having their eyelids altered so they would appear more round-eyed. Skin-lightening creams are popular both in the US and in the Philippines. As a child, I was told never to play in the sun so my skin wouldn’t darken any further. In public women’s rooms, I overheard jealousy over taller, thinner, paler women, and I realized they were wishing to be different than who they were physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Why this self-hatred? It was easy to blame commercials and ads showing leggy blonds draped in jewels strutting catwalks while cameras flashed all around them, but not everyone wants to be a model, not everyone needs the power of attention.

As a US-born child of immigrant parents, I realized that wanting to be different was a matter of survival; the closer we can align ourselves with the dominant culture, the more likely we are to succeed socially and economically. We often feel powerless to change the systems of oppression we experience. It seems easer to change our own bodies to undo the violence of colonialism and capitalism inflicted upon our predecessors and us.

The problem, though, is that it is very difficult to see self-racism, to be brave enough to encourage each other to be proud of the bodies we have, to see the irony in the popularity of tanning booths and products to make pale skin look “sun-kissed.”

“The Politics of Beauty” was written in hay(na)ku, a form created by Eileen Tabios, a Pinay writer from California. The crisp pace of the form focuses the images as they shift from the body to the landscape. The poem wraps with a mention of Mebuyan, the Manobo Goddess of the Underworld. Mebuyan refused to live in the sky where her brother ruled. Instead, she created a place where the dead could rest before being judged by the Creator. The halls of her kingdom are polished gold so the dead can see themselves clearly. Only good and sensible things are discussed there, and when the dead speak, everyone listens. Mebuyan takes particular care of the unborn children and she is often depicted with many breasts with which she nurtures the unborn.

In my poem, Mebuyan weeps because the dead come to her altered from their true selves, broken and believing that there is nothing good or sensible about them. She weeps to heal; she weeps to mourn the loss of fulfilled lives. Part warning, part prayer, “The Politics of Beauty” is dedicated to the silent ones whose beauty shines beneath the layered pain, a pledge to work toward a world where our daughters will shine with authentic beauty inside and out.

The Politics of Beauty

Pinch
your nose
tight and high.

Shield
your skin
from darkening sunrays.

Lift
your feet;
no shuffling steps.

Stretch
your back
tall and lean.

Curve
your tongue
around English words,

flat
words erasing,
taking away skin,

eyes,
almond brown,
hair, midnight sky.

Then
you’ll pass
through golden doors,

leave
behind paddies
and plantations ripped

from
jungle hillsides
where kulintang sing

mourning
songs for
dark-skinned children begging,

husbandless
mothers turning
tricks, sending daughters

overseas
to broken men
with violent hands,

where
Mebuyan weeps
the dead home.

About the Author: Publishing under the pen name Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Rebecca A. Saxton received her MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University in 2012. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Katipunan Literary Magazine and the online magazine Haruah. Her short story “Yellow is for Luck” appears in the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Brainard. Her poetry chapbook Pause Mid-Flight was released in 2010. She has been performing as a storyteller with the Bellingham Storyteller’s Guild for six years and specializes in stories based on Filipino folktales and Filipino-American history. Currently she is a member of the English Faculty at Northwest Indian College.   

To contact Rebecca, please email rebecca@rebeccamabanglomayor.com.

The word is in: Roll up your sleeves, Art Selection Panel!

As you may know, the art submission window for our upcoming race exhibit closed last Friday on Feb. 1. We feel grateful to have received such a host of wonderful, creative, thoughtful works. During the rest of this month, our capable community-based Art Selection Panel will be reviewing submissions and making the difficult decision of which ones to include in the exhibit.

In Other Exciting News…

The race exhibit now has an official name! At our last Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, the group agreed on “Under My Skin: Exploring Race in the 21st Century.” As usual, the conversation surrounding the name was rich and complex. Tell us what you think in the comments below.

We’re still actively looking for people who would like to contribute to this blog. Share your art, your thoughts, your personal stories and opinions. Check out this page of the blog for more details.

That’s all for now, but as always, thanks for staying tuned!

By Mizu Sugimura

“Just Who Is Yellow?” is the title of a mixed-media collage that I made which appeared in the show “Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race” at the Wing Luke Museum in 2004. It was one of several originally made to address a particular member of the audience: my own family, and especially Mom.

Just Who Is Yellow? by Mizu Sugimura

Just Who Is Yellow? by Mizu Sugimura

You see, back in the day it was Mom and my own family who refused to be engaged about conversations about race! Oh yes. They did introduce my sibling and me to the concept — i.e. in this country there were primarily haku-jin (whites) and nihon-jin (us). Only years later I learned we actually needed to use a different word for half of that equation or “Nikkei,” which I use now.

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Changing the World: Skills of an Organizer

By Dustin Washington

In my final blog post, I want to outline the skills and traits a strong organizer should internalize. I have included thoughts on organizing from The People’s Institute, Van Jones and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond

The ability to educate others.

As organizers we must first educate ourselves on the issues impacting our communities and our world. We must have a strong grasp of the historical and contemporary construction of Racism and other manifestations of oppression. It is not enough for us to just have a baseline understanding of oppression. We must commit to a continuous practice of keeping up to speed with various policies and trends that affect the constituencies we serve.

As we engage in a lifetime of study, we must also develop communication skills so we can help our constituencies better understand the world around them. Knowledge is truth and truth leads to a community demanding better conditions. Read More

Don’t Look Away: Analyzing Power

By Dustin Washington

In the nonprofit and social justice world, we all too often seek to “fix” oppressed individuals, but rarely do we help oppressed people challenge the power of institutions.

The People’s Institute (introduced in last week’s post) believes that true liberation movements must be grounded in and guided by a critical analysis of institutional power. Read More

Leadership for the Long Term

By Dustin Washington

Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity; Carl Jung developed the foundational understanding of the unconscious mind; and Dr. Jim Dunn and Ron Chisom developed the principles of anti-racist community organizing of the People’s Institutes for Survival and Beyond.

The People’s Institute believes that for us to do effective social change work, we must internalize the following principles: Read More