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Skin deep

March 25th, 2004 · No Comments

In today’s Seattle Times: Who are you? SAM photo exhibit probes questions of race and identity

“Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self,” runs today through June 13 at Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


The idea, according to SAM’s modern- and contemporary-art curator Lisa Corrin, is to use repulsion, humor, irony and up-close realism to shake loose the viewer’s ideas about race and American identity.

Corrin acknowledges that “Only Skin Deep,” while impressive in scope and quality, is a gamble for SAM. It will test the public’s willingness to pay for an in-your-face, soul-searching museum experience.

From Vanessa Beecroft’s disarmingly monochromatic portrait of Navy SEALs in white uniforms, to images of black demonstrators being water-cannoned in 1960s Birmingham, Ala., to a bitterly funny grid of 24 snapshots featuring all the Asian people artist Roger Shimomura has been mistaken for, the exhibit is bound to provoke mixed emotions.

I want to go see this exhibit. But I’m not sure how I’d go. I can’t take the kids to it. Not yet. They don’t yet have the thick skin you need in a skin deep world.

To see a few sample photos go to the Times article

Tags: culture