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Some Family Portrait Collages made after studying
Jacob Lawrence themes in his "MIgration" Series at MoMA, Spring 2015


Portrait of My Mom, by Exie Robertson"    

My mother, Diana, is depicted here in the style of Jacob Lawrence's "The Migration Series", 1941. I chose to focus my final collage on my mother, who happens to be going through many changes in her life for a woman as established as she is. My mother lost her job last September as a result of agism. She is extremely qualified and was underpaid in her field, and her employer decided to let her go and hire someone younger, who would take the job for less financial compensation. My mother had been going on interviews and having phone calls daily to figure out what her next move will be in her career. She had a closet full of interview suits and spends her days researching prospective institutions and companies she'd like to work for, also reaching out to every contact she has made. When you're a woman over fifty, it seems like finding a job can be a full time job in itself. I placed my mom in a classic black suit and a smart bag because it seems to be her uniform these days. She is standing over a background of dreamy blue water and beach, cut out from an old issue of Travel and Leisure magazine. When mom isn't working to find a job, she is dreaming of our next island getaway when we can just relax and forget a while. The words speak for themselves and relate to what my mother is and what her experience has been in her professional life and in her job search. "Up to 50" "one-of-a-kind" "classic" and "knowing", all relate to my extremely intelligent, fascinating, talented mother, and where her future will bring her. 


Olivia Transcending and Adapting, in the style of "The Migration", 1941, by Jacob Lawrence, by Sienna D'Addario
I decided to create a portrait of my younger sister, Olivia. She is one of my very best friends, and she is going through an amazing time in her life. Over the past few years my sister has been transcending from girl to woman. This transition is specifically important for my sister because she is often treated like a little girl. Olivia is on the autistic spectrum, and because of this, she is often treated as much younger than she actually is. Olivia will be turning eighteen this year, so her transition is becoming vitally important, and necessary. In essence, she is in migration from how the world views her to how she actually deserves to be viewed. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel and look like a woman, but to be treated like a little girl. Immense frustration at times, and peace at others; however, in this collage I wanted to show her as a full-blown woman. She is decked out with a mod style, triangular dress, in bright color blocked patterns. Her face is done up with red lips, and purple eye lashes to show not only traditional glamour, but also to show her colorful personality. My inspiration for color and layout came from one specific portrait of Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration” series. In particular, his fifty-eighth portrait labeled “In the North the Negro had better educational facilities”. While viewing this portrait I was struck by its colors, and shapes. There are three young girls depicted in this portrait. Each young girl is wearing a different color dress of the same shape, and they are all in the process of writing numbers on a chalkboard. My goal was to capture the same background coloring that Lawrence created, as well as bolder colors in the front ground. I was also set on using the same style of dress that appears on each little girl, a sort of triangular dress that a child might draw on a female stick figure. In Lawrence’s portrait of Northern migration, the young girls in the classroom have their backs turned to us, and similarly I wanted to convey the sense of voyeurism in my portrait. Olivia is depicted looking off into the distance, perhaps wondering what will come next along her unique journey into womanhood.

  kellifamily.jpg My Family "Yamaguchi"  by Kelli Yamaguchi
While studying Jacob Lawrence's seminal portrait pieces in "The Migration Series" at the Museum of Modern Art, I admired how simple and geometric his portraits are; yet so powerful. The social message Lawrence portrayed in his art was loud and clear to his audience. I try to replicate this style in my collage, which is based on my grandparent’s migration from Japan to the United States. The reason that I put a mountain in my collage is because my last name, “Yamaguchi”, means the mouth of the mountain. I placed the portrait of my grandparents, dad, and aunt in the middle of the mountain, not only because it represents what my last name means, but because it also shows that my family means a lot to me. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments my family has been through, from struggling to make a living as new American citizens, to acquiring noteworthy jobs such as being a engineer for NASA, a social worker, and a doctor. I hope that one day I can live up to my family’s reputation and accomplish as much as they have. I chose to use solid simple colors of grays, white, green, blue, and yellow to make the art simple to read and visually pleasing.

 alexdad.jpg Portrait of my father, a.k.a. panel #21, The Migration Series, 1941 by Jacob Lawrence by Alex Lee 
My purpose in creating this piece was to capture my father's first arrival in the United States to attend the University of Illinois in 1967. I wanted to emulate the color palette of "The Migration Series" so I used earthy tones of browns and greens which I then painted thinly over an image of the campus. In order to make my subject pop more in the foreground, I opted to leave the more vibrant colors as is. I think this reflects the very different tone and feeling of immigration that my father experienced, in contrast those experienced by Lawrence's subjects. By using very deep depth of field, the perspective in Lawrence's panel #21 becomes very powerful and lends a foreboding sense of what is yet to come. I wanted to translate the emigration experience through a more optimistic lens, for my piece to heighten the hope and promise that the US represented for my father. This is further communicated in the pose that I chose for the subject. Whereas the subjects in Lawrence's piece are static and almost hesitant, the subject I chose is in mid-motion and has a certain eagerness to move forward. I feel this combination particularly expresses the subject -- a man in his early 20's embarking on a long journey to complete his PhD-- with the bright hopes and prospects before him waiting to be grasped.

Your Token BLACK Man: A Picture of Stereotype    
by Dante Jeanfelix
This is a stereotype that I struggle with day in and day out. I am consistently confronted with the thought of whether people view me just as your token black friend or for who I really am. Do people look below the surface to see me as Danté, or do they see me as just a black friend? In my collage I wanted to show the stereotypes of how I am
 sometimes viewed, both in public, everyday and even in theatre, where I can become the token black character. Below the line, you see more variety, more color. I show the deeper parts of me. I also show the parts of theatre that are not your stereotypical black characters, but characters that I know I can do because of who I am as a person, not because of whom I might be as your stereotypical black man. I used the background to give the initial jolt of just black- but when you look closer you see many other colors; they represent who I am.

Untitled (a self-stereotype portrait) by Paul A. Richardspaulstereo.jpg 

"Creating Your Own Stereotype"? Life isn't just black and white. My collage attempts to exemplify how we create our own stereotypes and fight the ones people place on us. I've listed all the qualities I want on the right and all the negative ones on the left. Social media allows for us to craft who we want to be rather than just allow people to project onto us. In my portrait I am half in color and half in black and white. I'm split between those things I fear to be and those things I want to be. I use my social media to craft a stereotype of myself as the strong and confident New York actor who left home to pursue his dream. We create these stereotypes to escape the black and white negative stereotypes. My life is a battle between who I want to be and who I don't.

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