It’s happening! We installed it on September 20th and everything went as planned. The completed exhibit looks exactly like what I envisioned three years ago. Thanks to my husband Dennis Karas and gallery director Kate Simmons for their work to make it look great. Now all we need is you!
I Am My White Ancestors will be open for viewing from September 26-October 28, 2016 at the Alexander Gallery, Niemeyer Center, Clackamas Community College. Gallery hours are 9 am-5 pm M-F. Plenty of parking.
This show is an immersive experience best viewed in person where you can come face to face with each persona and listen to their stories in the space. Bring your phone and earplugs! You are also invited to respond to a series of questions at the sharing station. Visit with friends and have lunch in picturesque Oregon City afterwards.
Please also join me for these evening events:
Evening Gala Reception, Thursday, October 13, 6:30-8:30 pm
Gallery Talk, Tuesday, October 25, 7-8:30 pm
Photos of installation process by Jim Skates
On September 13th I presented a talk and a slideshow about the project at Race Talks, a monthly conversation series in Portland, Oregon founded and directed by Donna Maxey. As an artist, I sit in my studio alone, wondering if my ideas will connect with anyone else. This presentation was a way to hear directly from people. It was gratifying and wonderful.
My favorite moment was when I described an experience that would not have happened if I hadn’t spent the last three years thinking about being white. Here’s the story: I was recently in Chicago walking by Lake Michigan with a group of six white people. I was behind them, and they had stopped to chat on the path right in front of a family of African Americans, blocking their view of the lake. When I got near I heard the family jokingly calling out “black lives matter.” My friends did not hear or see the family and kept talking. This was the obliviousness of racism in action. So I walked up to my friends and said, “We need to move. We are blocking these people’s view of the lake.”
After telling this story I explained to the audience that white people walk around all day taking up space, speaking first, pushing past people to be first, and thinking our ideas are better. I happened to glance down at the front table where Donna was seated. She was nodding vigorously. I hadn’t expected that and was flooded by warmth. Maybe the whole project, the entire three years of nonstop work was all worth it. In one moment I could see how powerful and revolutionary it is for a white person to both notice and admit their racism. Just like the karmic law of humility: One must accept something in order to change it.
Here’s a comment from my friend Heather Carver:
Following Anne’s talk, the people at our table had a really interesting discussion about the fact that being "white" is an identity, just as being Jewish, or Black, or any other minority is seen as an identity. Several of us commented that we had felt we lacked such an identity--white was just the default.
What really impressed me is that Anne has been working on this for three years. Three years ago, although a handful of people were talking about white privilege, it was not a common concept. But now, just as her project is making its debut, people are waking up to the fact that we need to learn about this. We need to talk about this together, to move from focusing on differences to what we humans have in common.
On July 12th, 2016, seven Pacific NW writers included in the anthology What Does It Mean to Be White in America? shared our composite reading during Race Talks. The writers are me, Tereza Topferova Bottman, Carol Weliky, Leah Mueller, Janie Starr, Jan Priddy, and Patrik McDade. The video includes Donna Maxey explaining Race Talks, editor Gabrielle David's intro to the book, and our reading. I am proud to share an essay about my installation I Am My White Ancestors.
Announcement of the upcoming anthology What Does It Mean to be White in America. My personal essay about the process of creating my installation I Am My White Ancestors is included. Release date is April 15, 2016.Read More