Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks touches on the duality of people, the double consciousness and two-ness of one’s identity. He scatters several self-portraits throughout the exhibit and makes us take a look at what’s visibly seen and what’s not.
The thing about self-portraits, or even simply seeing a picture of myself that someone else captured, is that I’m frequently more critical of myself than others tend to be. I critique what’s not easily noticeable to others. And I always second guess either my fashion choice or the way I repeatedly tilt my head to the same side in EVERY picture. But those nuances, even the self-deprecating ones, have everything to do with who I am and my identity. And whether I like it or not, my picture says everything. Sometimes the dialogue changes based on who’s doing the talking. It’s about perspective.
What is your perspective on your identity and the way you see yourself versus how others view you?
On Saturday, October 26, I got a chance to meet, dialogue, and more importantly create what we called an Analog Pinterest Board with a dozen or so community members, both young and old, students and teachers, St. Louis natives and visitors.
The goal was for community members to PIN or attach pictures, drawings, collages, words and more about their identity, how they viewed themselves and how their viewed our community.
Some were literal. Like the cute 9 year-old girls, both dressed in pink, who were a little sheepish about participating at first. Then, I asked them to show me what their community looks like. After about 10 minutes they both drew a picture of one of their friends who didn’t join them that day. The pictures, ironically, looked like they’d actually drawn pictures of themselves.
Others were more abstract. A fifty something woman from out of state with beautiful penmanship skillfully drew out all of the words that she felt described who she was—daughter, friend, wife…MOM was sketched the biggest.
A number of the PINS were created as a family unit. A dad with his son and daughter. A mom with her college-aged daughter and high schooler. Another dad who walked away but kept close eyes on his 7 year-old daughter as she dutifully created a picture that best represented how she saw her community….tall buildings and all.
We took interested participants’ pictures with a Polaroid camera, and placed their picture next to their “identity” collages. A snapshot of a small peek into their lives—open for everyone to peer into for inspiration and reflection. No time for self-criticism, just time for community.
By Arika Parr (Friday, November 1, 2013)