Hult Center, Mim’s House & Skinner Butte, Eugene, OR; Northbound Oak Grove Rest Area, I-5, OR
October 28, 2017
White Noise is a digital media installation that explores institutional racism in America. Viewers are presented with the opportunity to consider and confront their own feelings about race and the benefits of white privilege. The venue for presentation—a rest stop on the I-5 corridor—references the long history of discrimination against African Americans that included separate bathroom facilities for non-whites.
Within the Gray Space cube, viewers will be presented with a solitary, central form—a painted gray pedestal, 36”x12”x12”—upon which is propped an iPad tablet that plays the highly abstracted and looped White Noise video. The floor area of Gray Space will be covered with copies of the project’s audiograph and timeline. Four text pages that describe the project, including a list of The Remembered, will be center-placed on each side, echoing the cardinal points of a compass. The accompanying audio, comprised of extended static buzz and symbolic silences, will be heard through a Bluetooth speaker, discreetly placed off to one side of the pedestal.
The audio track begins with low-level static that metaphorically represents the status quo and normalcy assumed by those who benefit from white privilege or feel themselves unaffected by and insulated from issues related to racism. Along with static buzz, symbolic silences invite the viewer to consider their response to the complex cultural dynamics of race in America. After the initial static and first silence that commemorates Trayvon Martin’s death, more static and the remaining silences follow. Those silences, two-tenths of a second for each individual remembered, interrupt the relentless static and appear chronologically within the track. The nine victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting are represented by a longer, combined silence that commemorates their loss. These deaths were selected due to the resulting media involvement and social action response to their stories − each tragic loss became the catalyst for social awareness, protest, and change. Each tenth of a second experienced in the audio file represents a calendar day beginning on January 1, 2012, and is periodically updated to reflect the ongoing passage of time and events.
Does one speak up and out against racially motivated violence or remain silent and insulated from the reality of institutional racism? We all have a choice − White Noise asks, what’s yours?
Additional Work By Kathleen Caprario
The bioDIVERSITY cut and stenciled mixed media paper works evolved from the question, “How am I shaped by my environment?” and seek to reconnect personal and cultural identities with the land. My plan for Gray Space will involve identifying a natural area impacted by human activity and juxtaposing patterns gleaned to create and reference the trope of wallpaper; landscape is frequently considered in Western societies as merely the backdrop against which human activity occurs that alters and consumes its natural resources. In this way, it is similar to wallpaper, an important but often overlooked environmental influence.
The cut-out areas identify organic silhouettes as well as environmental boundaries with the absence within those areas questioning historic appropriation, ownership and use. Overlaid are black and white, rhythmic lines that track the simultaneity of actions in the environment experienced including the flight of birds, the activity of insects and my own movements through the land.
Kathleen Caprario traded the concrete canyons of the New York/New Jersey Metro Area for the real canyons and broad skies of the Pacific NW in the late 1970’s. Her early work reflected the experience of living and growing up in an urban area. But living in Oregon transformed the architecturally inspired work she had been doing into the architectonic shapes and patterns of the high desert, coastal rock formations and the openness of the seemingly infinite space that was her new home.
In addition to Caprario’s studio practice, she writes and performs stand-up comedy in the Eugene area. She recently wrote and produced a short film based on her comedy and life, “Mourning After” (19:47), in conjunction with the Shaggy Dog Project and the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA), Eugene. “Mourning After,” was premiered at the non-juried Short Film Corner at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, France (2014).
Caprario studied both painting and textile design in art school and worked as a fabric designer in New York’s Garment District in the mid 1970’s. One of her original designs was the first printed repetition of the splattered, distressed jeans look; it sold thousands of yards, was printed on every sort of material imaginable and made into pants, shirts, skirts and the like—“ready-to-wear Pollock.” Her early career in textile design focused her attention on repeated motifs and she developed an interest in pattern and its cultural associations to feminine identity as well as the environment. That insight, coupled with having lived most of her adult life in the Pacific Northwest, has firmly rooted her creative practice in landscape, identity and the relationship of self to nature.
Kathleen Caprario exhibits her work regionally and nationally, and she received an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in 1989. Artist residences at the Graves’ Foundation (2014, 2009), Playa at Summer Lake (2011), the Jentel Foundation (2007) and the Ucross Foundation (1985), as well as living and working with Aboriginal children in Central Australia (2010) have informed and continue to inspire her work. Her teaching includes Adjunct Instructor appointments for the Art Departments at Oregon State University and Lane Community College.