This short film offers a series of interwoven interviews in which viewers describe their reactions to and answer questions about individual photographs in the Mirror of Race project. Interviewees are encouraged to interpret the images and to construct stories about their meaning. The stories they tell serve as a mirror to reflect back to themselves their thoughts and feelings about the “other,” both historically and now, as they experience the other today.
How do we understand and change our feelings regarding the other in our history, in our private lives, and in our community? Before we can overcome the divisions engendered by the perception of difference, we have to understand and accept how we make sense of how we perceive others and, at the same time, ourselves.
Further videos will include a number of interviews, discussions, and performance pieces that begin as meditations on specific images and that evolve to challenge the audience to reflect upon its own ways of seeing and interpreting the other.
Eventually, we plan to have video commentary on each of the images in the online exhibition, as well as a compilation of interviews in “Seeing about Race” as a unitary film.
Derek Burrows, August 2009
In 1974 Derek arrived into Boston to find a racially charged climate, busing was at its height, racial tensions high. Coming from The Bahamas where the social construct of race called him white, Derek was able to navigate though a myriad of cultural and racial groups while exploring what whiteness meant to him.
Growing up in The Bahamas, he was white but never felt that term a part of who he was. On arriving into Boston to go to Berklee College of Music, he discovered that there race didn’t matter.
The film “Before the Trees Was Strange” uses interviews with family members, experts from the Bahamas as well as interviews of experts on race and genetics from America to tell the story of Derek’s immigrant experience to America, his exploration of his own racial identity and his discovery though genetic testing that changed completely the way the family thinks about themselves.
Using archival footage, old family footage and current day images, Derek, a master storyteller, weaves together a tale of intrigue as he takes us on a journey allowing us to ask, “What is race and does it exist and why does it matter?”
Ed Drew grew up in Brooklyn, New York City and joined the military a month after his completion of high school. He spent the next 6 years in the active duty Air Force, from 1999 to 2005, as a jet engine mechanic.
His tour of duty began in Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and in 2001 he was reassigned to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan until the end of his enlistment. It was while in Japan he discovered his passion for art and an artistic aesthetic derived from the Japanese culture.After leaving Japan and active duty, he relocated to Germany where he lived for 3 years.
He travelled across much of Western Europe and parts of Eastern Europe, further developing his artistic style. In the summer of 2008 Ed finally returned to America, after a 7 year absence, and, shortly thereafter, enlisted in the Air National Guard.Ed Drew currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he attends San Francisco Art Institute full time, pursuing a BFA in Sculpture with a minor in Photography, studying under photographer Linda Connor and sculptor John Roloff.