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Students, Art & Science, and Race

Students, Art & Science, and Race

: Gosei by Laura Kina, 2012 Oil on canvas 30” x 45”.

Students, Art & Science, and Race

: 1969 by Canh Nguyen, 2010 Archival pigment print 16"x20".

Students, Art & Science, and Race

: Photo by courtesy of American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota.

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Race, an idea which artist Kara Walker calls both love affair and major conflict, is going to be the hot topic among Cornish Humanities & Sciences classes this Fall.

“… I always felt that it’s really a love affair that we’ve got going in this country”, says artist Kara Walker about race issues, “with the notion of major conflict that needs to be overcome and maybe a fear of what happens when that thing is overcome”.  This year, the Cornish Humanities and Sciences Department aims to explore a number of aspects related to diversity, power and privilege. Students will be asked to consider as Walker does: “Who am I beyond this skin I’m in?” 

Professors are no doubt making plans to rendezvous with the subject of race through H&S field trips, and they will have at least two big chances to do so. Seattle Science Center and the Wing Luke Museum are going to tackle Walker’s “lover’s quarrel” with major exhibitions about race which overlap in September-November. Whether students click their way through the quiz “White Men Can’t Jump and Other Assumptions About Sports and Race” or wander among wire sculptures of girls wearing hijabs, these exhibits are going to make them think.

The Pacific Science Center will be presenting “RACE: Are We So Different?” Visitors will get a contemporary look at race that’s been touring the country since 2007. “By deconstructing historical, scientific and social ideas of race, the exhibit helps guests understand what race is and more importantly, what race is not” says the RACE web description. The exhibit focuses on themes of everyday experience, US history, and current scientific perspectives on race.

At the Wing Luke, Seattleites can view “Under My Skin: Artists Explore Race in the 21st Century”. The featured artists creatively approach “the brutal realities of racism in the past and present, the ways race shapes the immigrant experience, and the hope that can be found in the complex realities of race in daily life.” Visitors will also have the chance to check out the real-life, confrontational portrait photography of featured artist and Cornish alum Canh Nguyen (AR ’12).

Many Cornish Humanities and Sciences classes involve discussions on race, culture, and ethnicity (not only the humanities classes, either). Students learning about all kinds of things from genetics to anthropology will likely visit the exhibits, whether with a class or on their own. If you are a student and are thinking about signing up for an H&S class, here are some with related material:

HS 270 01 Genomic Revolution: Hope or Harm? - Renee Agatsuma
HS 280 02 Us and Them- Lauren Basson
HS 280 04 Silence and Society- Lauren Basson
HS 280 05 Racial Identity Development- Patricia Russell
HS 295 02 Colonial Encounters- Rebecca Hughes      
HS 260 02 Media, Culture and Communications- Craig Snyder
HS 270 02 Science and Race- Julia Crouch
HS 280 06 Where in the World is the U.S.A.?- Alex Morrow
HS 121 04: Modern Times- Alex Morrow
HS 121 10: The Body in Context- Corinne Adler

Are we, as a college, interested in this “love affair” then? We’re part of this city, and all you need to do is look at the list of sponsors and community partners for the exhibits, the artists who are making related works, and Cornish class lists to know that we are.


View RACE at the Pacific Science Center
View Under my Skin at the Wing Luke Museum
View the Cornish Course Catalog


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