My broadside focuses on being a person of color adopted into, and growing up in, a caucasian family and town. I wanted to portray how harsh generalizations and categorizations shaped my struggles with identity, and how even now I am unable to fully identify with any race or culture. This concept was very difficult to wrap up into one neat little print, and it was a challenge to come up with ideas from the start. Initially I had decided to do something more abstract and briefly played with the idea of using plants as my central image. I knew I wanted to include aspects of contrast and duality, and contemplated doing a print of an orange in an apple barrel, or a cactus in an aspen forest. Ultimately, I abandoned the fruit and plant idea because I felt it dehumanized my struggle and took away from the central message. After this, I decided to take inspiration from my artist in the Of Color exhibit, Alison Saar.
Saar’s works are bold, simplistic, and almost primal in how they evoke emotion from their viewers. Her artist book Mami (or how to know a goddess when you see one) depicts women, often in a monochromatic color scheme, with poems or sayings printed onto the sides of the images. I loved the rigid linework and bold phrases, and wanted to replicate it in my own piece.
So, sticking to a human subject, I constructed a simple but bold broadside proposal with three phrases on it (See “broadside proposal” to the left) in a black and white color scheme.I felt the mirrored face created the sense of duality that I was hoping for in my work. I originally had coined five phrases, hoping to do one on each side of the print with one in the middle. After a review with Prof. Blassingame, however, we decided the simplistic style of the background would overwhelm the text, and that only the central phrase was necessary. After that I went through four drafts of a digital background, but after losing access to my drawing program I finished the background by hand then scanned it, before printing it onto the final papers. I used a letterpress printer for the text, and despite some initial difficulties with the machine, I feel that it turned out well. Though I did not plan for the letters to be partially lost in the background, I found that I enjoyed the way it played with the viewer’s eyes.
My identity is still a work in progress, and I cannot say how I identify one way or another. But working on this piece gave me time to not just consider how others see me, but how I see myself.
- Catherine (Kiki) Glah, Scripps College '18