Friday, November 20, 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.



  2. This is very incorrect in a lot of ways. Firstly, she does not have blond hair in the White Lady portrait. Secondly, the Negroid Features and White Lady portraits were created like a decade apart, they are not parts of the same piece. Thirdly, her "true heritage" was not African. She is bi-racial - black and white. Which makes her both black and white at the same time. Mixed background was what enabled her to speak about the racial biases, not the fact that she was black and suffered from it. If anything, she looked more white than black and could barely have any problems with walking into a room and having everyone judge her based on her race. Please, before you start analyzing art, at least spend a minute to google it and see what it loos like.