Artfest, day two: A short history of gluin' and screwin'

Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about altering books.
The instructor for my second class, Lorraine Reynolds, says she's happiest when she's working in the studio, "gluin' and screwin'."
Lorraine Reynolds' work
So we proceeded to glue and screw in "Books Unbound." And guess what? I didn't have my traditional Artfest Meltdown. This is monumental for me.
Waaaay back in 2007
First year: Meltdown in my very first class; I freaked out because I was falling behind and thought I wasn't 'getting it right.' Second year: freak-out on second day, and I actually left the building, I was so upset. Third year: mini-freakout in second class, full-blown attack in third class.
Fourth and final Artfest: Instructor says, "Does anyone know how to glue a block of pages together?" Why yes... yes I do. "Does anyone know how to cut a niche?" Why yes... yes I do.
So I'm actually prepared to pull the rest of the class techniques together into a semi-cohesive narrative! Whoo-hoo! "A short history" right there.
Putting together my ephemera and photos, I realized I could tell a "short history" of racial stereotyping from the European colonial era into the modern era. (What, your mind doesn't automatically go there?)
The "apology" text is from a postcard advertising a documentary about the Tuskegee experiment. The background image is a postcard reproduction of an old French ad for Negrita liquor. A mammy figure serves up the bottle with her own image as a "negrita," essentially posing herself as an object of consumption.
The transparency is from one of my mother's baby pictures. My mother grew up in a time when blatant stereotypes in advertising (and elsewhere) were common and unremarkable. I placed her so the curve of her arm echoed the curve of the woman's arm in the ad.
That combination led me to create another vignette: a white woman examining a black woman (a cousin of my mother's) as if she were looking at an exotic specimen.
On the cover, I framed another French ad, this one for chocolate, and overlaid it with a framed image on glass of soldiers firing a cannon. Colonial wars for territory... anyone? England vs. Spain vs. France vs...
Yeah, it's a wee bit heavy: the subject matter as well as the book itself. But the week before Artfest, I'd spent a lot of time thinking of the stereotype at work in the Trayvon Martin murder: black teenage boy = threat. And it's come out in my work.

But I feel a bit lighter having dealt with a heavy issue. And the complete lack of freak-out in class feels pretty good too.

Tomorrow: enough seriousness. There's shopping to be done at Vendor Night.
Posted on April 5, 2012 and filed under "Artfest", "biracial parenting", "deep thoughts".