By Cienna-Paige Slattery
I made two sculptures this week to represent two different feelings. The first was based on an article that talked about the common stereotypes among scientists. The way this article made me feel was a bit different than the intended message of this article. This article reaffirmed that scientists are stereotyped as white men. Additionally, even with the stereotypes about scientists being untrustworthy, they are still held in a higher regard than people of color. This made me sort’ve angry, though mostly with the stereotype of scientists as white men. These feelings led me to think about how people of color are slowly changing this stereotype through their persistence and determination, and how many people of color may persist through the limitations of these stereotypes in order to succeed in science.
The sculpture I made to represent this feeling was a head painted red protruding from a brown, rounded surface. This brown surface is supposed to represent the barriers the people of color encounter due to stereotypes about scientists and the limitations imposed by this stereotype. The head has blue flowers and vines painted on it, and attached to the head are two butterflies, two red flowers, and the head is covered in snake eyes. Also protruding from the brown surface are six white roses, three on each side of the head. I chose to paint the head red because red evokes power, fierceness, and intensity. I chose to make the flowers red for the same reason. In contrast to the intensity and fierceness of the red, I chose to use flowers and to paint flowers because flowers make me think of growth and progress. Additionally, flowers symbolize beauty and I think the way in which people of color are changing the social norms in science is beautiful. Unlike the red flowers on the head, the flowers growing from the brown surface are white. I chose white to symbolize justice. I added the butterflies to add to the theme of change and transformation that results in beauty. Finally, I added the snake eyes to symbolize determination and power. I chose snake eyes because they feel particularly threatening and focused.
The second sculpture I made was based on an article about the Clark Doll Experiments.
These experiments used identical dolls, some paint black while the others were white and asked young children a series of questions. The questions asked things such as
“which doll is prettier.” Eventually, the children were asked “which doll do you associate most with yourself” and the black children would typically choose the black doll. This experiment proved that black children associated more negative characteristics with themselves because of their race. This article made me feel deeply sad. I felt a lot of empathy for the children in the experiment and black children as a whole. Youth is supposed to be a joyful time when one is not overly concerned about outside perceptions or their self-image. It saddened me that racism was already poisoning and distorting these children’s self-image and that these children were already so affected by outside perceptions. This made me think of the destruction of innocence by racism.
For this sculpture, I glued a light blue face to a black background. On the mask and background I drew innocent child drawings. These drawings represent childhood innocence. I also chose a light blue face because the color is associated with babies and children. I chose to use a face because I think faces make a piece of art feel much more personal. The black background symbolizes the harsh and corrupt reality that surrounds the children. I then covered the skull in black shrubs with one protruding from both eyes. The scrubs represent the way that the society is poisoning these children’s innocence and how it has penetrated these children’s minds so deeply that it is now destroying their innocence from the inside-out. Finally, I painted on black tears to represent the pain that these children feel as a result of racism.