What People are Saying
This exhibit operates on a lot of different levels. You've got the very large portrait pieces as visual art and the storytelling, which goes down in great detail to the granular level. It's historical, yet contemporary in its approach. It examines issues of race, cultural sensitivities and our backgrounds in ways that are social and also personal to Anne. It really is her voice as an artist being spoken through all of these different characters that are part of her life over hundreds and thousands of years. It's super exciting to have you here. When Anne submitted her proposal last fall we thought about it for quite awhile. It's obviously dealing with sensitive issues of identity and race. In thinking about challenging issues, which artists do, I wanted to make sure we weren't just pushing buttons, if you will. But getting to know the depth of this exhibit and the depth of the artmaking, made it clear to me that we weren't doing that. This is a very serious approach to what can be a sensitive issue for people of all colors. I thought, February is Black History Month, it would make sense to go with it. I want to encourage people to get into the details of the exhibit. You will learn so much.
Tom Webb, gallery director at Newport Visual Art Center, Remarks from opening reception February 1, 2019
Since I’m African-American I have history on both sides, on the side of the oppressed and oppressors. For people of color it’s important they know there are white people willing to look a their pasts. And for white people it’s important to see you can do this and still come out whole. White people say, ‘I’m not responsible.’ I answer, I am not responsible for my people who were enslaved but I am still suffering the consequences. So why do I have to bite the bullet and you don’t? It’s a place to start the conversation. Anne had the guts to do it.
--Donna Maxey, founder and director of Race Talks, Portland, Oregon
What a mammoth project. It blew me away. The creativity brings history alive. It makes me want to go back and do my historical research. When Anne conceived of this three years ago it seemed like an oddball project to me. Now it’s front and center in the national conversation. It’s beautiful because there is so much honesty in it. It’s what white people need to do.
--Melanie Rios, Portland, Oregon
I AM MY WHITE ANCESTORS is a challenging multidisciplinary art project. On the surface it seems like a straightforward, but elaborate photo-based family album playfully spread out in century spanning fragments of heavily researched costume and story. But more accurately, this tracing of an ancestral line is a nuanced and involving look at what many cultural critics are calling the “invisibility of whiteness”.
--Suvan Geer, from her essay Looking While White
It felt like a really brave project. I come from an irreligious Jewish family and white privilege was never talked about. It’s really critical that we are claiming these ancestors for the good and the bad that everyone has in them. This is really important in understanding and eliminating racism. Showing it to white audiences is important. It gets people to start thinking. Oh yeah, I have a hand in this oppressive system. Especially with the country moving toward strong anti-immigration sentiments, it feels really critical to understand what it is to be white.
--Hillary Devaney, Portland, Oregon
I Am My White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression exceeded our expectations with rich content and unique approaches to ideas of self-portraiture and Mavor's depiction of her ancestral cultural identity through time. Her ability to embrace each media and interweave it seamlessly produced a body of work that nurtured arts dialog concerning materials, processes, content and contexts for making contemporary art work. In addition, the installation was a good fit for our space as it utilized visual arts disciplines to emphasize the importance of discussion concerning culture, race and identity in today's socially, politically and racially charged climate.
--Kate Simmons, Director, Alexander Gallery, Clackamas Community College
The concept is fascinating. I don’t think we ever think about our whiteness. Just take it for granted. I’m one quarter Nez Perce and I still found her exploration of her background fascinating. Nothing but positive things can come out of this.
--Kathleen, Portland, Oregon