Art exhibit examines interracial relationships
The Race Dialogue Project's "Mixed Messages" opened Nov. 13
November 14, 2011, 12:28 am · Updated November 14, 2011, 2:33 am·
Through the realm of art, a new exhibit at Penn may leave its viewers with a new outlook on the relationships between differing identities.
Nov. 13, the Race Dialogue Project hosted a reception for the opening of its art exhibit, “Mixed Messages: Stories of Inter-identity Relationships” in the Fox Art Gallery of Claudia Cohen Hall. The Race Dialogue Project is a group of Penn undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in addressing the issue of race and its impact on society. Sponsored by the Greenfield Intercultural Center, the Penn Alumni Student Society and the Social Planning and Events Committee Art Gallery, the exhibit will run until Nov. 30.
The exhibit features No Difference Between Them, a photograph series of interracial couples by Robert Kalman. A collection of art work by College seniors Raven Willis, a Daily Pennsylvanian assistant photo editor, Allison Zuckerman and Graduate School of Education graduate student Dalyn Montgomery is also displayed. An interactive wall of small chalkboards allows visitors to write how they identify themselves.
Lining one of the areas of the gallery is a series of letters from various Penn students to a significant person of a different identity than their own, explaining how the others have been an influence on the students’ lives. Finally, a history timeline is illustrated across the walls of a section in the gallery, showing the legal and social obstacles of interracial, intercultural and interfaith relationships.
The reception hosted over 50 guests. Refreshments, including food from Manakeesh, a Lebanese bakery, were served. The directors of the Race Dialogue Project started off the evening by introducing the goals of the organization and exhibit. The message is “to address taboos and misconceptions of these relationships,” said Race Dialogue Project Art Director Ruani Ribe, a College senior.
Members of spoken-word group Excelano Project and Latin dance group Onda Latina performed. Kalman and his wife Linda also visited to give a presentation of his photographs. After the performances, the gallery was then reopened for the audience to explore at their leisure while music played.
The opening brought varying members of the Penn community. College senior Elizabeth Mavromatis came out to the reception because her roommate was featured in one of Willis’ photographs. She found the setup of the black and white photographs in addition to the colorful student works appealing. While the exhibit has not changed her perception of inter-identity relationship, she felt it was “very beautiful, eye-opening and inspiring.”
Wharton sophomore Stephanie Johnson, a member of the Race Dialogue Project, was drawn to the organization because of her interracial identity. She contributed a written piece for the letter exhibit. “I thought the timeline was very interesting. I’m really glad they also included interfaith relationships.”
At the end of the showing, the directors were very pleased with the turnout and the animated discussions among the visitors. “The hard work definitely paid off,” said Mariya Keselman, a College sophomore and the group’s education director.