Black, White, & Full Color
A student mural inspired by the theory of racelessness by Sheena Mason
Black, White, & Full Color was an installation that was on exhibition at SUNY Oneonta. It was inspired by the concept of double consciousness and illustrates the questioning of societal interpretations of “race” through the lens of the theory of racelessness, an overview of contemporary and historical literature on the subject, and personal experience. My Fall 2022 Writing About Literature (COMP-2045) class created the concept and design of the mural from start to finish. This exhibition pulled from modern literary sources like James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Erna Brodber, Lorraine Hansberry, and Frantz Fanon; contemporary artists like Glenn Ligon; and a critical engagement with the idea of “race” and practice of racialization. The students interpreted these contemporary and historical sources to engage with both the subject matter discussed in class and a historic topic that continues to be debated today.
Although a little difficult to see in the picture (thanks to the brightness of the sunshine), the center wall played a loop of a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation that featured a number of celebrities, human rights activists (like Frederick Douglass), and writers (like Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and James Baldwin). At the start, middle, and end of the presentation, students made a collage of all of the people’s faces into a single portrait. The PowerPoint also played on a TV monitor that was right next to the mural display. I included a link to a short video of some of the PPT below.
The left and right walls display scrolls (paper and acrylic paint) that are 11 feet long (close to 14 feet long on the right side) and 4 feet wide. The two floor displays are comprised of a selection of books, artwork, mirrors, and blackout poetry (all done and designed by students).
Let me know in the comments when you spot me!
View from the left
View from the right
Right floor display
Right blackout poetry from Erna Brodber’s Myal
Left floor display
Left display blackout poetry from Derek Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight”
Sheena Michele Mason earned her Ph.D. in English literature from Howard University in Washington DC USA. In August 2021, she joined the faculty at SUNY Oneonta as an Assistant Professor in English. She teaches a variety of literature and their corresponding history. Her first book Theory of Racelessness: A Case For Antirace(ism), a textbook, presents an alternative philosophy of race and the theory of racelessness, an analytical and teaching framework for understanding "race" and stopping racism and its effects. It also presents a philosophy of race, culture, and ethnicity. Inspired by her theory, she co-founded Theory of Racelessness, an educational firm that helps people use alternative philosophies of race and her theory to achieve truly antiracist outcomes. Her second book that presents her theory to a broader audience is due to be released in 2023. The theory of racelessness helps more people undo racism--the cause and effects--by undoing their belief in "race" and the practice of racialization. Connect with her on Twitter.
I see you, Dr. Mason! Transformative ART! <3