Ethnic Notions: Black Images in the White Mind

September 12 - November 4, 1982

Ethnic Notions: Black Images in the White Mind was planned in response to community requests for exhibitions which are related to current issues. The exhibitions which are related to current issues. The exhibition of this collection is especially appropriate to the Berkeley Art Center, not only because the collector is a resident of Berkeley, but because we have a commitment to present shows which educate and inform the public and are about ideas relevant to the community. Minorities make up about 40% of Berkeley's population, and are represented in all levels of civic life, while the San Francisco Bay Area's population of 4.6 million is known for its mosaic of ethnic identities. Ethnic Notions addresses issues of concern to a heterogeneous community such as ours. 

"This collection contains a large number of functional items dating from 1847 to the present. It includes such items as pencils, tablets, silver spoons, books, games, sheet music, post cards, tobacco jars, candy times, and toys. Many of the American items were produced by well-known artists, illustrators and manufacturing companies. Most of the foreign pieces are recognizable by geographic location, i.e., Meissen ware from Germany. 

The stereotyping, style, composition, and line of the items reflects society's responses to slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, World Wars I and II, and the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties as experienced in this country and as these events were perceived abroad. 

This collection focuses on caricatures of blacks which have been used to convey fear, support, or rejection of assigned roles. In America, caricature was used to maintain the right to exclude black people, and thus insure a total separation of the races. European caricatures supported America's need to legislate exclusion of Afro-Americans. " -- Jan Faulkner, January, 1982