|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|A bi-cultural woman with parents who identified themselves as
"colored", Adrian Piper is a Conceptual* artist who in the late 1960s,
at the forefront of this movement, whose focus is more directed to
concept or underlying philosophy than to creative process.
Piper, whose audiences are ethnically diverse, is dedicated to
'anti-racism' and to deliver her message, often incorporates
"politically charged" text, videos and performance in her work.
She "chooses to remain free of the dictates of the marketplace and
chooses her direction and content outside its accepted parameters,
which often result in her being marginalized. . . .The driving
impetus behind all of her work is to galvanize viewers, transforming
their position from voyeurs to subjects." (Weaver 421-22)|
From childhood, Piper, who was raised in Harlem, New York, has lived in
of paradox, of "multiple persona" where, because of her light skin
color, many people have assumed she is white. Although she
could have operated in society-at-large under the 'safe' guise of a
white person, she "chose to claim herself as black." (Weaver,
422) According to Halima Taha, African-American art scholar,
"Adrian Piper is considered Black based on American law in which anyone
with a Black ancestor is Black. This is based on the property and
chattle laws that supported slavery."
January, 2001, special exhibits of her work were held concurrently at
three New York galleries: the Thomas Erban Gallery, the New Museum of
Contemporary Art, and the Paula Cooper Gallery. In these venues,
Piper exhibited mix-media works and minimalist* drawings, some on pages
of The New York Times,
intended to force viewers to think about how they automatically make
racial definitions. Some of her pieces depicted embracing naked
figures, utterly sensual and erotic; others were cartoon bubbles and
photofit versions of her own face, exaggerating her hopefully negroid
features, her collages* of herself as a threatening black man,
presumably with an obvious comic edge.
Piper's education includes the School of Visual Arts in New York,
1966-69, where she was awarded First Prize in Drawing; City
College of New York, 1970 to 1974; Harvard University, 1974-1977;
University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1977-1978; Harvard University,
1981. With the exception of the School of Visual Arts, her
degrees have been in Philosophy, culminating in 1981, with a
Ph.D. She has held the position of Professor of Philosophy at
Wellesley College and has publications in metaethics and metaphysics.
Awards include Fellowships from the National Endowment for the
Humanities, 1979 and 1982; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship*, 1989; and
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Medal, 1995.
Exhibitions have included galleries in New York, Philadelphia, and
Toronto, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, University of Boulder
Art Gallery, Lowe Art Museum, Santa Monica Art Museum of Contemporary
Art, and the Washington Project for the Arts.
Submitted by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier
A.M. Weaver, "Adrian Piper", St. James Guide to Black Artists, pp. 420-422
Halima Tama, African-American art scholar, information provided October, 2006 to AskART
Eleanor Heartney, "Blacks, Whites, Other Mythic Beings", Art in America, November 2001, p. 136
* For more
in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary
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