An exhibition highlighting the complexities of identity is currently being displayed in the 1925 Gallery in Memorial Union.
Created by the WUD Art Committee and featuring photos by Kristen Johnson-Salazar, the exhibition, “Hyphenated,” draws attention to the experiences of “Hyphenated-Americans” as they navigate a country dominated by white supremacy and a world that wants to constantly put them into one box.
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An incredibly relevant issue in this current political climate, the exhibition gives “Hyphenated-Americans” an opportunity to talk about the positives, negatives and complexities that come along with identifying as more than simply “American.” Whether it’s through Indian-American Rohan Patnaik’s first experience with the stereotype, “Where do you really come from?” or Shannon Kim’s recounting of elementary school taunts about her traditional Korean food, the use of testimonies under the photos makes the visitor feel that they are navigating the discrimination alongside those who have lived through them.
Although an eye-opening experience, it is important to point out that the entirety of the exhibition is not just one sombre affair. While there are indeed references to the micro-aggressions and traumatic experiences which “Hyphenated-Americans” have had to undergo, it is impossible to ignore the pride that is found amongst the photographs’ subjects.
The vibrant colors of the photos convey just how at peace the subjects are with their identities. Not hiding in the shadows, the subjects are telling the city of Madison that they are diverse and proud — proud of their heritage and proud to share their stories about what it means to grow up in unique cultures and countries.
While the exhibition is predominantly one photograph for each individual story, fans of other mediums will also be excited to learn that some other styles are involved in the project. A collection of carefully arranged photos of canvas entitled “Black is Beautiful” is one of the most striking visions of the exhibition. In addition, freshman Joicelyn Brenson shares her story of identifying as biracial through a multi-media assembled painting — a beautiful and colorful tribute that reflects diversity.
“Hyphenated” will be on display until Nov. 21 at Memorial Union’s 1925 Gallery, and will end with a closing reception from 6-8 p.m.