Identity is a project I worked on in 2015 for my senior capstone. It’s a project that is personal to me and that I have struggled to explain since I started working on it. When it was first displayed, Identity went by the name “American Dream”, since it was influenced by my family and I wanted the term Dream to be a focus when viewing and exploring this project
In this installation, I created an office space with various business documents, books, and official papers scattered around on a desk, a shelf, and even on the wall. Mixed in with these items, I placed more artistic items like a hardbound sketchbook and graphite pencils. My purpose with this was to create two identities living in the same space, and in order to create tension, I placed a forged social security card with two names. One of them male and the other female, one of them clearly legible and the other fading. In a sense, I wanted to show people one of the struggles I was going through at the time: an art student who had firm parents that believed business was the only way to succeed, a student who wasn’t just losing sight of her dreams but was also fading from society
One of the things I struggled with the most with this project was how to present it. Originally, the idea only consisted of a forged social security card with two names on it. It was only after researching mixed race contemporary artists that I started to realize what I did and didn’t want. For example, in Saul Aguirre’s Dollar series, he created bills using pastels, graphite, and 24K gold leaf on amatl paper, however, for my purposes the brightness of the pastels would have downplayed the seriousness that I wanted to project. I also wanted my central piece to feel authentic, so creating something with pastels or even graphite didn’t feel like the right choice. I also looked at Gardiner C. Funo O’Kain’s work Interlineation, two passport pictures and an altered birth certificate framed and hung on a wall, however, that display idea was also discarded early on. Framing something felt too cold and distant from the viewer and I wanted people to enter a space, to touch the work, and to feel the tension
After a few discussions with fellow artists and my professors, I began on the path of an installation. With this in mind, I began to research artists like Maria Brito (in particular I looked at her installation pieces of fragmented memories of ‘home’). I created an office space nearly identical to the one I have at home, placing the forged security card in clear view. The chair in the space was also removed during the planning phase in order to make the viewer more uncomfortable while perusing the piece.