A new exhibition, “Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids” by Kip Fulbeck, featuring over 70 framed photographic images of children of multiple racial heritage and their statements or drawings, will premiere at the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday, March 20, with activities from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition runs through Sept. 26.
Organized by the National Museum and Kip Fulbeck, an award-winning artist, performer, and professor of art at UC Santa Barbara, “Mixed” is intended to be family-friendly, thoughtful and playful. Along with portraits and statements that represent humorous, honest and revealing declarations of individual identity, the exhibition has several hands-on components that provide opportunities for visitors to leave behind their own unique mark, including an interactive sculpture where visitors can post messages and/or images and the chance at selected times for individuals to leave their handprints on the wall of the exhibition.
“This is a project about identity,” Fulbeck wrote. “About representing ourselves as we really are. And while the kids here are all beautiful, I didn’t set out to make a show about beautiful ethnically mixed kids. I wanted to capture the beauty of these children beyond their physical attributes. I wanted to shoot their enthusiasms, their playfulness, their messiness, their crankiness, their imagination, and their hope. I wanted to photograph them as them, not as them getting photographed.”
Fulbeck, who also has created a book under the same title as the exhibition, is known as a leading artist and filmmaker on the subject of mixed race identity and maintains a number of on-going projects, including the Web site thehapaproject.com. Mixed is his latest project.
“The Japanese American National Museum is extremely pleased to once again collaborate with Kip Fulbeck on creating a new exhibition,” said Akemi Kikumura Yano, president and CEO of JANM. “Kip’s exhibitions are very accessible and appropriate for entire families. Yet the underlying themes, especially concerning individual identity, are fundamental to all of us as people. I expect that visitors to Mixed will be both delighted and profoundly moved by the presentation.”
Besides the March 20 opening day activities, featuring a presentation and book signing by Fulbeck, the exhibition will also have a second full day of activities on Saturday, June 12. This event is organized in conjunction with the museum’s on-going Target Free Family Saturdays and the Mixed Roots and Literary Film Festival. The highlight of the day’s schedule will be an appearance by educator Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama’s sister, who will read excerpts from her unpublished children’s book. Later in the evening she will engage in a conversation with Fulbeck on subject of identity, family and being multiracial in America today. The conversation is a ticketed event.
Soetoro-Ng wrote the foreword to Fulbeck’s book, Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids, and observed, “There are advantages and disadvantages to being mixed. On one hand, mixed kids have an expanded worldview; on the other hand, they may feel torn by divided loyalties. I envied those around me who had a clear community. There is great value in seeing ourselves reflected in others and knowing that there is some shared experience between us and others ‘out there.’ That is why Kip Fulbeck is important and why Mixed is a book that matters. It is important that we be given an opportunity to name ourselves. Mixed is a book I wish I had.”
The June 12 event will also commemorate Loving Day, recalling the Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, in 1967 that overturned laws that prohibited people of different races from marrying. More information on March 20 and June 12 is available at www.janm.org.
The Japanese American National Museum is located at 369 East First Street in the historic Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit janm.org. National Museum hours are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults, $5 for seniors; $5 for students and children; free for Museum members and children under age six. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.