Self-Portrait: Implicit Bias
In 2015 I was sent to federal prison (nonviolent art world incident). While I was there, I reflected on myself and my motivation for making things. I read the book Blindspot, by Anthony Greenwald and Maharin Banaji. They developed the implicit bias test at Harvard (which you can take online, as Harvard continues to collect the information). After taking the test, I realized I would often draw a Ã¢â¬Ådefault characterÃ¢â¬Â, a white boy or girl, when I had no photographic reference. I came to realize that this was in a way a self-portrait.
I am adopted and of Spanish heritage, and was raised in white middle-class suburbia. I associate myself with this white group, but I donÃ¢â¬â¢t look anything like them, so I struggle with this gap. In prison, I put these two portraits next to each other, using my default character and a photo of myself.After I got out of prison, I wrote to Mahzarin Banaji
and sent her an outline of my projects. I sent her a proposed exhibition Monster, which included several current works and a book of drawings I had made from prison. She said that the work was very special, and sophisticated, and has asked that I keep in touch and show her the project of memory and implicit bias when it is completed.
In all of these analyses of memory, how we remember, how we solve problems, we are blind to certain ideas. Our implicit bias drives our reactions to what we see and experience. I made a series of self-portraits using the common image of Mary ShellyÃ¢â¬â¢s Frankenstein. I used the beauty of watercolor to show the striking image of the monster. He is flanked by prints of torches and flashlights to represent the crowd, from past to present -- using torches to drive the Monster, the crowd has not changed or developed over the years. The Monster is an intelligent character, full of poetry and knowledge, but the people he meets canÃ¢â¬â¢t get past their implicit bias to talk to him, (3) (4)(5)