MacKenzie Rutherford, Scripps College '21

interviewed Ganzeer

My final project is called “Lost”. It serves as commentary on the pressure and difficulty that can be involved with accepting one’s mixed identity. The poetry featured is written by my classmates Chiugo Rossi Akujuobi and Janet Asante (both Scripps ’21), but the cut vinyl is inspired by my own experiences with accepting my identity as both black and white.


            The poetry was inspired by Zöe Wicomb’s book You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town. It focuses on the main character Freida’s relationship with her identity and selfhood as she is living amongst very specific expectations for her to fit into. The poem was written during an in-class poetry workshop, and although I did not work with Chiugo and Janet on the poem, I was able to hear their creative process while writing it, which is what inspired me to create the visual that went along with it. And their words, based on the experiences of Freida in You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, resonated with me and spoke to me, so I created this piece. The rainbow wheel mixing between blue and red (each piece being unique) is meant to portray the ways in which identity is not as simple as genetics or your parents. You create you, and each individual is different. I think mixed race people are often put in a box where they can’t ‘act’ too black or too white. Expression should not be confined to the stereotypes and expectations of society, identity is an eternal journey and will never fit a cookie cutter mold.


Additionally, I was inspired by one of Ganzeer’s installations (which was also made into prints) featured on his website, Urgent Visions / AGITPROP! It gave me the vision of playing with the meaning of hair. In my project, I wanted to play with the meaning of what curly hair vs straight hair meant to me. Wearing my natural hair, for me, has been a large part of accepting my mixed/black identity and I think representing this through cut vinyl opens the door for interpretation. While I hid behind straight hair and wearing natural hair was liberating, for some people altered hair vs natural hair could represent the multiplicity of their identity. So, I think the visual of hair will speak to many, especially with the rainbow roll mix of colors aligning with the content of the text.


            My page is meant to reveal the complexity of identity, specifically in the context of race/ethnicity, but the theme still applies in so many other contexts of identity and self-discovery. This piece is meant to convey that my identity is not as simple as being black, white, or mixed; for there are many shades in between. Many people with mixed identities face criticism, harsh stereotyping, and are not allowed to exist the same way in certain spaces. This is an important thing to be validated in our social justice understandings, to improve an intersectional approach to all forms of gender, sexualty, and race/ethnic social justice issues in an inclusive, understanding way.