“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness [sic], this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—… two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
-W.E.B. Dubois, Souls of Black Folks
A Two-Way Mirror is an exhibition of contemporary Black artists who have used glass to create work that deconstructs social, cultural, gender, and racial identity concerns. The artists range in background from African American, to British, to Puerto Rican. Each artist uses glass to reflect thoughts and bodies that have historically been fraught with exploitation. Due to its reflectivity and translucence, glass is an apt medium to interrogate identity constructs such as the theory of double consciousness presented by W.E.B. Dubois in his seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk.
In this exhibition, we explore the historical representation of Black people through the medium of glass, ranging from work that borrows the abstraction of African art by exploiting the sophistication of its planar shifts to the production of traditional glass fetish objects like blackamoor pieces. The perception of self is always warring with that of the outside. Glass art has been predominantly devoid of access for historically marginalized people. This was in large part due to the cost of production, racial oppression, and the class division between artist and artisan. This exhibition cannot rectify this but can explore inequity of this history and offer works by artists of African descent that tell their own stories.
As the production of glass has become more accessible, the medium has become more open to different voices. This is an age of pluralism. People of different racial, gender, sexual, and class identities all can now tell their stories through art. Glass is a medium that reflects not only the inner truths of both the viewers and makers, but that of western society as a whole and all the clandestine and muddied histories that lie within its core. The beautiful parts, abject parts, resilient parts, and the opaque all make themselves more evident as the viewer continues to stare through the glass.
- Friday, Sep. 1 - Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023
- Location: 1801 Dock St, Tacoma, WA