The artwork discussed on this page contains many aspects that some viewers might find disturbing and racially charged. This work was made as a counter stance to racism and stereotyping by presenting both current stereotyped views on the subject as well as alternative views to get the audience engaged within the work. These art works were developed through the guidance of highly educated faculty members and the works were deemed successful in their intended outcomes. The racial and stereotypical views displayed in these works are not the personal views of the artist or the faculty members who served as advisors.
This was an art project created to satisfy the requirements for my Studio Art Senior seminar class. This is the class that is designed to get an Allegheny College student prepared for the senior comp by having you create a smaller body of work.
I was on the theme of exploring racism through art and games. On this premise, I decided to make a game entitled, "Stereopoly", that would explore conflicting stereotypes. I choose a board game as the forum because the very nature of a game is to invite people into a virtual world of interactive play. Here they would be faced with the conflicting messages and explore their own prejudice by playing the game.
The game itself plays like the normal monopoly board game with the players rolling dice to advance, buy property, and try to force the other players into liquidation. The board itself was designed to portray one side of racism with the property plots illustrating the negative stereotype of races. Here the expensive property belonged to the white neighborhood and the cheaper property (all colors except blue and green) belonged to the other races. The board's various property purchasing mechanisms would only be accessible to certain types of player pieces enhancing the stereotyped messages and imagery placed on the spaces themselves.
The property cards become available when a player purchases property. On the deed itself they were able to see the opposite side of the stereotype, beyond the initial overpowering offensive theme of the board. For example a cheap piece of property might belong to an African American demographic and might have the property picture showing a run down low income housing project. However, on the back of the card the player would be able to see the opposite side of the stereotype where a young male is getting good grades and obtains a scholarship to go to a university because he is studying hard, despite the current living hardship.
Another example of opposing stereotypes on the property cards is a wealthy white neighborhood where everyone is rich and the internal community is segregated from any other ethic groups. The flip side of the coin is that the man in charge is arrested for federal drug and corporate ethic crimes. He is being hauled away from the money by the police without anyone trying to help him.
The piece's presentation was completed by establishing a comfortable setting for people, who wanted to play and interact with the game. I had a table with the game laid out ready for playing, added a table cloth to make it seem more home-like. I placed four chairs were people could sit down, to concentrate more on the game than the fatigue of standing.
This work was a success during the showing. I stood at a distance to see how people would react. At first most were appalled by the outward stereotype portrayed by the game board. Then, as the people began to explore the property and the community chest cards, they understood the meaning of the work as a thought provoking exploration of their internal views and seemed satisfied with their individual experiences.
2004 – Mixed Media - This was the top of the game box for Stereopoly. It was constructed out of cardboard that had an identical weight of store bought game boxes and it was covered with glossy prints for the commercial box art.
2004 – Mixed Media - On the bottom of the game box, I wanted to capture a picture of people playing the game similar to what is used on store bought games. Some fellow artists joined me in setting up a mock image shot of people playing the game itself.
2004 – Mixed Media - This was the game on display at Allegheny College's Art Gallery. It was laid out in this manner so that people would feel comfortable approaching and interacting with the work.
2004 – Mixed Media - Here is a close up detail shot of the game at Allegheny College's Art Gallery. The fake money, deed cards, chance cards, and community chest cards were printed on card stock that mirrored the same consistency found in a standard board game.
2004 – Mixed Media - The Chance and Community Chest Cards provided random acts that could happen to anyone who is playing the game. Most still had some form a stereotype theme but were meant to be "grey" areas as far as effecting game play.
2004 – Mixed Media - Here is another example of a Chance Card. I tried to preserve the same monochrome coloring scheme that is present in monopoly's game cards.
2004 – Mixed Media - In a couple of the cards I carried the discrimination factor into the content to make the players think about the effects of how stereotypes are perceived and invoke a reaction.
2004 – Mixed Media - Even in cases where race and stereotyping was not present, I tried to make all the cards have the same look and feel adding a cavalier commentary to various situations that could be encountered in the modern day world.
2004 – Mixed Media - Stereopoly was made to discuss some sensitive issues which are sources of heated debate in today's society. My hope was to invoke discussion about these topics that would carry beyond simply playing the game.
Example of a space on the Stereopoly board. This was the outward negative stereotype displayed on the game board.
A player would be faced with overpowering negative stereotypes such as this one and see the opposite side of the story on the deed cards.
You will notice that the cost of the property is also valued low compared to other property on the baord which can cost up to $400. The writting at the bottom of space is small but reads, "Enjoy Country Music with the Closest Family Known"
The deed card for the same board space tells the opposite side of the story, presenting the player with an opposing stereotype.
The text is small but reads,"Popular rumors of easy trashy girls and people with low morals certainly abound. However these two senior citizens certainly don't see it that way. Due to politics and inflation they had to sell their old house and this is their new home. Their neighbors are always close by to give them a hand if they need it...."
The back of the deed cards provided the standard game information that a player need to follow to construct houses and hotels on owned property making it a playable game.
The Chance and Community Chest cards also worked in the same manner. The themes were different and provided a grey area for the game where good or bad could happen to a player regardless of race. For example anyone could get catch in a drive by shooting or win the lottery.