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A lot of us have become what we have been portrayed to be

and I have had enough.

- Cephas Williams

I Am More Than Who You See was created by Lisa Abia-Smith, director of education and Senior Instructor faculty for PPPM, and is inspired by Cephas Williams' 56 Black Men campaign. These museum education programs and exhibitions center around a series of annual workshops held for UO students focusing on identity and misrepresentation.

This year’s project was led and curated by photographers Malik Lovette (2018, BA) and UO art student Kayla Lockwood (2022, BFA). The exhibition documents multiple community conversations with UO students, primarily students of color, and documents their experiences surrounding stereotyping. The project team represented each participant’s authentic view of their identity with the critical and reflective dispositions that accompany their personal development.

For the past three years, the JSMA has hosted a series of workshops and community conversations with UO students centering around themes of identity, representation, and self-expression. The discussions and artwork created during the sessions were documented, resulting in the production of photographs taken by UO student curators, who contributed their own individual artistic approach to the exhibition.

This year’s student curators, Malik Lovette (2018, BA) and Kayla Lockwood (2022, BFA) were given the theme, I Am More Than Who You See, which was developed by me, as director of the JSMA Education Department and senior faculty instructor in the UO School of Public Planning, Policy, and Management. This theme, inspired by UK photographer Cephas Williams’ 56 Black Men campaign, aims to reframe how Black men are represented in the media. A sample of 16 of the 56 portraits hang simultaneously in the JSMA South Hallway.

The exhibition documents multiple community conversations with UO students, many of whom identify as students of color, and examines their experiences surrounding the stereotyping to which they have been subjected. The project team sought to represent each participant’s authentic view of their personal identity by providing the critical and internal reflections that accompany their images.

This year’s workshops were conducted remotely on Zoom during winter term, and engaged students dispersed across many geographical areas of the US, while grappling with isolation, anxiety, and unchartered territories as a result of the COVID pandemic. We were unsure whether the virtual platform would allow for deeper conversations, but quickly found that the students were not only comfortable sharing their stories, but also eager for this connection with their peers. They embraced the museum as a forum for these candid discussions and self-reflection. They completed art and writing prompts addressing misrepresentation and individuality, and those living in the Eugene area volunteered to be photographed in clothing that illustrated their own aesthetic and unique identities.

I would like to thank all the students who participated in the community conversations for their willingness to share their stories and trust the museum as a safe place to process and reflect. I also would like to thank Malik and Kayla for their leadership, creativity, and passion for this project and for accepting the responsibility as its co-curators and co-creators.

- Lisa Abia-Smith, JSMA Director of Education

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