OPENNESS


A thesis presented by Qiwen Ju, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design in the Department of Graphic Design of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. 


Abstract
Opening Apertures
Relevant Terms
Multiple Perspectives
︎︎︎ Stereotype
︎︎︎We
︎︎︎ Stop Asian Hate Poster
︎︎︎ On This Day
Interview with Yiyang Hei
Shifting Perspective
︎︎︎ Maze
︎︎︎ Alienation
︎︎︎ Moiré Typeface
Studying Perspective
︎︎︎ Reframing Story
My Perspective
︎︎︎ Escape From Reality
︎︎︎ El Lissitzky And Werner Jeker
︎︎︎ The Grid
︎︎︎ If You Could See What I Hear
Afterword


BACK

STEREOTYPE


Top: In May 2017, our graduating art students held an exhibition called Before Going. The exhibition included photography, painting, sculpture, digital media, jewelry and printmaking.
Stereotypes is the last and most important project of my entire four-year college experience. I created it in mid-2017, and it was exhibited at Purdue University’s School of Art for a month. This project was inspired by my experience of prejudice in 2016.

2016 was a rough year for Chinese students studying at Purdue. Statistics reveal that from 2013 to 2016, around 3,000 to 4,000 Asian students were enrolled at Purdue, which is about 10% of the student body. Because of the large number of Asians, the school tended to allocate resources in our favor, and this upset some students from other ethnic groups. There were a series of protests and marches against Asians at the year-end. Although the school and the dean quickly stepped in to resolve the problem, and they appeased the protesting students, Asian students still felt a negative attitude from some of the other students the following semester. These students even used labels and terms that belittled Asians in school, such as nerds, rich second generation, poor English, cheating, autistic, and more. In my opinion, these labels were an invisible form of violence and abuse. As an art student and an Asian, I consider it my responsibility to speak up for and represent my community, but how to do so effectively is a question that I haven't yet answered.

I was lucky that I took a seminar course entitled “Asian American History” before the protests. Professor Monica Trieu helped the class reflect on issues such as race, stereotypes, and the like in the United States by discussing the history of Asian immigrants from the founding of the United States onward. It was then that I first heard the term “yellow peril,” which was an insult often hurled at Asian people.

The Yellow Peril first became a major issue in the United States in California in the 1870s when white working-class laborers, fearful of losing their jobs amidst an economic decline, discriminated against the “filthy yellow hordes” from Asia, leading to the national Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which not only prohibited immigration from China but forbade legal residents from becoming citizens. According to the famed orator of the time, Horace Greeley, “The Chinese are uncivilized, unclean, and filthy beyond all conception without any of the higher domestic or social relations; lustful and sensual in their dispositions; every female is a prostitute of the basest order.” 4

Notwithstanding that Asians today have earned their status as a model minority in American society, we still confront the same racial “labels” that we faced a century and a half ago when the first wave of Asians began to settle in the United States. Therefore, I decided to incite protest through my work from the perspective of an Asian person. I am attempting to tear off the ‘labels’ imposed on us and show the many facets of what it means to be Asian.

Using photography, I recorded the expressions of Asians of different ages, genders, and occupations when they faced the camera. Some were confident, some were shy, and some were reluctant. Then I printed the photos. I chose black-and-white rather than color in the hope that the audience will overlook the skin color and observe each individual's demeanor on an equal footing. I also attached some Chinese calligraphy to the first sheet of the series: ‘A man of virtue should continuously practice as a heavenly body while running. His magnanimity should be like the earth, containing all positive and negative facets of one thing.’ Is this a familiar Chinese saying?

Printmaking, my medium, combines traditional and modern artistic expression, giving voice to my thoughts, unshackling old models, and showing rich diversity.



I was in the dark room trying to prepare for my prints.



The process of making the work is divided into photography and printing. I recorded the demeanor of each participant through the camera, processed them in black and white through Photoshop, and finally screen printed them.


Final Output


4) Yang, Tim. “The Malleable Yet Undying Nature of the Yellow Peril.”