Race, ethnicity, culture, ancestry, nationality, religion, spirituality, and gender each
combine and contribute to the formation of our human identities. While personal identity
should be a celebration of uniqueness as well as unity, human history has proven to
assimilate, use, abuse, terrorize and even completely annihilate entire peoples because
they’re core identities classified them as subordinate. My work could in no way
encapsulate the cruel injustices or general complexities of identity—in particular race.
How could it? It is impossible to accurately depict and explain a socially constructed
reality in simple or adequate terms. At very least, imagery can attempt to teach
audiences about the nuances of identity in ways words cannot. Issues of race and
ethnicity have a tendency to turn people away, out of discomfort, ignorance, lack of
interest, the assumption that it does not pertain to them, or perhaps, most
understandably for people of color, racial fatigue. By using aesthetically appealing
patterns, colorful and pleasant hues, and dynamic figurative imagery, the work is
inviting, approachable, and accessible. But upon closer inspection of imagery and
subtle use of text, my greatest desire would be for viewers to be reminded of their own
unique identity, and more importantly learn and contemplate aspects of a human
experience outside of their own. As I have embarked on this journey of identity
exploration, I have delved into other’s personal narratives, social science research that
contextualizes our society, and finally my own mixed background. It is essential that
each of us embark on such a journey of personal, informational, emotionally sincere,
and explorative grappling. Our shared reprehensible human history requires individual
and institutional reconciliation.
Aïsha Lehmann is an artist based in Provo, Utah. She is currently in Brigham Young
University’s Studio Art BFA program, with minors in Sociology and Africana Studies.
She is an artist and researcher, grappling with the complexities of identity in race,
ethnicity, gender, and spirituality. As she researches, she examines academic studies
as well as her own gathered material on others’ personal experiences and narratives.
She translates observations into imagery using paper, patterns, drawing, and
printmaking techniques. She is preparing for an upcoming solo show at the Finch Lane
Gallery in Salt Lake City.