The Otherness of Strangefruit

Michi Suazo, Features Editor

As part of Black History Month, Caribbean-American artist Shoshanna Weinberger’s new exhibit is one that deals with themes of identity. Weinberger’s 20 art pieces are framed with wood and done on 100-year old paper.

“I think of myself as a visual anthropologist. So this is hybridity and how we take on identities,” said Weinberger at the show’s opening reception in February. “People of color are constantly conscious of where they are. You know, when I go to Jamaica, I’m not Jamaican enough and when I’m here in America I’m exotic. It’s about double consciousness. At the same time these are also humorous autobiographical criticisms.” She describes her pieces as “specimens” recording self-referential archetypes of female identities. “In the past my work was very graphic. Here, I’m working with the absence of the body with paper as the element of structure. I wanted this hybridity of animal and human, monstrous and beautiful. Think of yourself as those things.”

Shoshanna Weinberger walks a group of students through her work.

One of the pieces, “Redaction of Stripes,” seems like the hair in it is sort of constricted, limited, chained. Black squares seem to represent censoring and they also remind one of televisions and how the struggles of minorities are censored or kept hidden from the public eye. The long legs in heels could symbolize the fetishization of black bodies and the stripes of the leg look like zebra skin and shows how each one has different patterns unique from everyone else—but  you can only see a part of it. Another piece called “Digital Breakdown: Housing Baker,” has an element of drip painting that could symbolize blood. Black squares once again block the body while fetishized features such as heels and red lips are emphasized.

Samantha Garcia, a junior and Art major said, “It’s new to me. It’s abstract, but it’s not at the same time. I’m still figuring out the meaning [of the exhibit] because each one is different.”

The Otherness of Strangefruit will remain in the Harold B. Lemmerman gallery until March 15, 2018. As part of Writers On Campus, there will be a Black Women Artists and Writers Panel Discussion in the same gallery on February 27 at 6 PM. You can register for the event here.

Photos courtesy of JunSean Fung.