Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Calling (Card); 1986

My Calling (Card) was completed in 1986. There were two pieces of art in this series, both were offset lithographs. My Calling (Card) #1 was on brown paper and My Calling Card #2 was on white paper. Both of these works were published by Angry Art. The dimensions of the cards were h. 2 x w. 3 ½” (5.1 x 8.9 cm).

My Calling (Card) was an interactive work that Piper performed unannounced where ever she was that day from 1986 to 1990. ("Wikipedia") Piper uses “a passive-aggressive approach to showcase how racism and sexism are intrinsically harmful” ("African American Art"). Piper is a very light-skinned African American, so many people think that she is white. She is very good at “acting white” as well. The brown card in the series is used to directly confront anyone who uses an racist remark while she is present. She would do this anywhere even at dinners and cock-tail parties. When she hears the remark she hands them the card and this usually makes them very uncomfortable. The white card is used on men, it tells them that she is available simply because she is unaccompanied. She uses these cards in these situations. Since this work has been made she display these cards in exhibits for people to take and use. Her main focus with these cards is that “the focus in these mass-produced objects is not on craft, but on the ideas behind their production” ("African American Art"). Piper “recounts the extreme discomfort she experienced in various other ways of handling the recognition/non-recognition of her blackness. The indexical present instantiated by her work seemed to act as a catalyst for social mindfulness, awareness of the here-and-now of interpersonal relations” (Steinmetz).

The Calling (Cards) was a very interesting piece. I like how she continues this work in her everyday life. This one piece of artwork that will never die because she encourages others to use this work over and over again. I have noticed that a lot of her work is based on the idea that is behind her paintings and drawings. With this work, the idea is to get people that are racist when there are no other black people around. She can be in a group and they make a racial comment and then she presents her card to them. This particular piece reminds me of a work done by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Passport, 1991. His idea is that anyone can come into the gallery and take a piece of paper off of the stack of papers. They can do with the paper whatever they want. Piper and Gonzalez-Torres wants the audience to keep these work alive. They want the audience to use each work the way in which they see fit.


"Adrian Piper." Wikipedia. 22 11 2009, Web. 18 Nov 2009. .

"Adrian Piper." African American Art. 2006. Indiana University Art Museum , Web. 18 Nov 2009. .

Steinmetz, Julia. “The Power of Now: Adrian Piper’s Indexical Present.” Art21. 05/07/2009. Art21, Web. 18 Nov 2009.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vanilla Nightmares #2; 1986

Vanilla Nightmare is a charcoal and red crayon drawing, it is done on a tan wove paper, better known as newsprint and there is erasing present, too. The newspaper that was used for these drawing is The New York Times. The drawing is 60 by 70.3 cm (23 5.8 by 27 5/8 in.) This drawing was finished in 1986. This piece shows a women lying down, she is drawn right in the print of the paper. The other side of the drawing shows a face with white eyes. Over the face there is writing in red crayon: “Solution-solution- The Bla K Space” This particular drawing is one of a series of 20 drawings also done with charcoal and red crayon and focusinf on .

In the 1980s, Piper sharpened the focus of her artwork, by applying her meditational concept of the indexical present to the interpersonal dynamics of racism and racial stereotyping” (“Wikipedia”) Vanilla Nightmares #2 is exploring these different racial problems. (“Wikipedia”) This work was drawn on June 20, 1986 issue of The New York Times. On the left side of the drawing “sprawled across several articles dealing with apartheid, is a reclining black nude female whose impassive gaze belies her availability, indicated not only by her outstretched limbs but also by the column of type that rises between her open legs” (“Museum Studies). The face on the right is of a large, bald black person, with black eyes and the gender is unknown. The phrase “Bla[n]k space” “refers to a discussion, on the opposite page, of a form of official censorship according to which South African newspapers published blank, white spaces where articles or photographs that the government found objectionable should have been” (“Museum Studies”) The blackness on the women’s thigh and her left breast is an example of the government taking out a part of the newspaper that they feel is inappropriate. Taking knowledge that a person has the right to know away from them. “Piper’s figures, aptly described by art critic Lucy Lippard as ‘impassive intruders [that] infiltrate and overlay the marching columns of print, emerging from the shadows like slaves whispering behind the plantation house,’ are at once haunting and threatening, the stuff of nightmares for those in power” (“Museum Studies”).

I like this drawing a lot because of the expresions on the faces. The woman on the left looks very content and comfortable. While the face on the right looks blank, and unreadable. I also like how the bla k part of the painting could be black or blank. I think she is meaning that being a black person is like being blank because the from her viewpoint she still has to fight equality. When she lets people know that she is black they are awkward and unfriendly. The red-crayon solution part of the drawing, to me, means that she is trying to make the line between being black and "blank" disappear. She wants to be racially equal with everyone.


"Adrian Piper." Wikipedia. 22 11 2009, Web. 18 Nov 2009. .

"Portfolio of works By African American Artists." Museum Studies. 2000. The Art institute of Chicago, Web. 18 Nov 2009.

"Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features" (1981)

This piece is apart of a side-by-side self portrait of Piper herself. It is a pencil drawing where she “emphasizes her broad nose, full lips, and luxuriant Afro hairdo (Giuliano). She has a very direct gaze in this drawing. It is almost as if the gaze is “emblematic of how her art confronts you” (Giuliano).

Also apart of this work is a 1995 photograph altered with oil crayon, "Self-Portrait as a Nice White Lady." Piper still has the no-nonsense expression, but her hair is long and straight rather than a wild afro. Pipers painted the background of the photo a vivid red, “prompting you to wonder if this person is nice or angry” (Giuliano). This piece in my opinion is one of her more famous works. This is a very emotionally dry, “modest attack on racial stereotyping that makes most of Ms. Piper's other work, by comparison, seem heavy-handed and calculated” (Johnson).

This is a very emotional piece. I can see how she was split between being a white girl with straight blond hair in the one drawing and then her true heritage of being black in the other self-portrait. This would be a difficult way to live life, it is almost as if she is living with a split personality. As I was researching this work, one of the pages said this was a mug-shot. I didn't think of it as one when I first seen it but then I realized that it looked a lot like a mug shot. Piper does a good job making this self-portrait portray her feelings. Almost all of her work is about sexual and racial tensions. This one does a good job on showing what it is like to be a black female during this time. The mug shot view is how a black person would feel when they walk into a room of people that they do not know.


Giuliano, Mike. "Color Schemes." City Paper. 03 11 1999. Fine Arts Gallery, Web. 23 Nov 2009. .

Johnson, Ken. "Art In Review." The New York Times. 17 11 2000. The New York Times, Web. 23 Nov 2009.