Mixed Blessing, by Lucy Lippard, discusses multiculturalism in the art world. The book is based on art produced by men and women from many different ethnic backgrounds. She focuses on the work of Latino, Native-American,, African, and Asian artists. Her writings help us to understand how other people relate to their cultures. It provides a sense of anotherness. The crossing cultures makes us look more closely at our own environments. Lippard’s first chapter is called “Naming. ” it is about seelf-naming and being labeled, about coming to terms with self-representation, despite the identities most of us are forced to assume.
She speaks of the melting pot, in which everyone’s identity is attempting to “climb” out, to reclaim who they truly are. Every ethnic group insists on the diversity within their own ethnicity, stressing the impossibility of any one individual or group speaking for all others. Their internal struggles may be buried deep in a work of art, invisible excccept when inferred thrrough style and approach. I found Clarissa Sligh’s cyanotype, “Seeking Comfort I Sucked My Thumb,” to be very eerie. My immediate interpretation of it was that this young girl sucking her thumb, was afraid of something or someone.
She’s young, but looks old enough that she wouldn’t want to suck her thumb. This showed me that she must fear the man she iss remembering, a repressed memory of some sort. The mans body is separated in two incomplete fragments. He is dressed in business attire, wearing his suit and tie, which shows he has power and therefore is intimidating to her. He has an intensse look upon his face, glaring out at her from behind her shoulder. The girl just remains moitionless, with her eyes closed, both hands to her face, with her thumb in her mouth, since there is no one else to turn to.
The words “Seeking comfort, I sucked my thumb,” is used as the background. It’s like a sentence a teacher might of made her write over and over again, and she was remembering the phrase, thus enacting it. When I read Sligh’s mini biography, I was surprised to see that some of my ideas were similar to her ideas also. Her subjects are usually cildhood, home, family, memory, and sexism. She was also abused when she was young, and later on was involved in a court case regarding school desegregation. Perhaps the man in her art work represented one of the lawyers or the abuser, and maybe the girl sucking her thumb is actually her.
Sligh recommends to look at the construction of a family album and all the things that are not shown and not said. You’ll hardly ever find pictures during the “bad” times, those skeletons are always hidden in the closet. Hulleah Tsinhahjinnie’s “Mattie Rides a Bit Too Far,” is a truly unique photo-collage. immediately my attention is drawn to the brilliantly whitte polka-dots used as the backdrop of the sky. The blades of grass are cut in a fire-like shape, beneath the classic bicycle. The artist left the grass in between the spokes of the wheel, which looks bizarre but interesting.
The bike rider, Mattie, is dressed in her traditional clothing, sitting side-saddle. She looks off into the vast space around heer, wondering what must await ahead. Mattie symbolizes the child that has an unbroken spirt and no boundaries. She wants to explore and discover ares forbidden to her. This collage seems like it’s part of a fantasy world. It screams out “Fun! ” Mattie is going on the adventure of her life, and she wants to take us along for the ride. During this journey she pauses for a moment to reflect upon her travels and looks to the sky for reassurance, for she knows she has ventured too far and must return soon.