What is race? How do we define it?
If these are questions you’ve ever asked yourself, Race: Are We So Different? will give you all the information and more to discover the answer for yourself. Race explores the loaded word in its title through the lenses of science, history, and personal narratives.
“Race and identity is not something people talk about on a daily basis,” says Minnesota-based photographer Wing Young Huie. Huie’s stark black and white photographs are included in the exhibition, grounding the expanse of information in simple portraits of everyday people.
Of the many personal and visual narratives throughout the exhibit, a local touch is added by Columbus area high school students. Encouraged to reflect on how race impacted their lives on a daily basis, the students made an artistic representation of that feeling in a locker. As much as this exhibit is researched exhaustively, we might learn just as much from a high school student.
Amaria Estes, a 16 year-old sophomore, put it quite well: “I think people who see the lockers and come to the exhibit will realize that people of different colors are similar, what the history of different races went through, and kind of show what young people think about race too.” The locker project is inspired by a set of decorated lockers included in the exhibit to examine race in our schools.
No stone goes unturned in this exhibit. There is more information, images, voices, and faces than you can possibly process in one day. Some of the most striking images come from Wing Young Huie, who has a very pointed view about the subject.
“Race is a difficult subject. Nobody wants to be looked at through the prism of race. I don’t want someone I don’t know to come up to me and ask me questions about being Chinese,” imparts Huie. “What I’m trying to do is to create a new iconography of who we are as Minnesotans, and as Americans. America has changed, America is shifting and [the] realities have not caught up to that shift, popular culture has not caught up to that shift. What I’m trying to do is catch us up.”
Whether it’s the questions included in the exhibit, like “Why do we come in different colors?” or “Does where we come from tell us who we are?”, the wide array of faces and personal experiences, or the historical data presented, you will leave this exhibit knowing more about race than you ever did before. Wing Young Huie speaks to the importance of what happens after you leave the exhibit.
“Once you leave the exhibit, try to take with you what you see, what you’ve experienced, what you’ve ruminated on, and take it with you in your everyday life. Question your assumptions.”
To read the entire transcript of Huie’s interview click here: WYHTranscription. Race: Are We So Different will be on view at COSI from January 28th through May 6th. In addition to the exhibit, COSI is partnering with many local organizations to keep the conversation going. Visit their website at www.cosi.org to see how you can become a part of the discussion.