June 2-July 11, 2020
I am my White Ancestors, Claiming the Legacy of Oppression
An installation by artist Anne Mavor, that aims to make European-American history and identity visible, to inspire White viewers in particular to claim positive and negative aspects of their family histories as a step towards participating in ending racism. The exhibit supports broad community outreach and uses the power of art for both understanding racism and social action.
Thirteen life-size photographic self-portraits explore Mavor’s family, and their role in the history of race, class, colonization, and genocide. The ancestors, real and imagined, span over 2000 years from the Celtic Iron Age to present day Portland, Oregon. The 7 ft x 5 ft portraits, printed on fabric panels, are accompanied by short audio diaries from the perspective of each ancestor. The portraits show how I have embodied each character to understand and embrace my history. The repeated faces illustrate beliefs being passed down through the generations like DNA. Audio diaries reveal the historical events and traumas that shaped each ancestor and caused them to act out oppressive behaviors. (Bring your smartphone to click through to recordings for each character.)
Viewers can respond to the works by posting questions and answers.
Program includes artworks, a panel discussion and activities to open discussion and foster change.
* For everyone’s safety, up to six (6) household members may sign up at a time to visit the show.
Read/Watch MORE to put Knowledge into Action:
- Teacher’s Guide to the show >>
- Article in “YES!” by Nancy Hill >>
- “Looking While White,” by Suvan Geer >>
- “Let’s Talk,” from Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center >>
- Anti-racist Reading List, compiled by Ibram X. Kendi >>
- Anti-racisms Resources, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein >>
- Oregon Black History Timeline >>
Our thanks to the following for support of this exhibit and associated programming:
- Chris and Elizabeth Bell
- Marj Cannon and Hugh Moore
- NAACP Corvallis/Albany Branch #1118
- Jim and Ruth Howland Fund of The Arts Center’s Endowment Fund
- The Steele Family Fund of The Arts Center’s Endowment Fund