An interactive game about the traits people share yields surprising results that challenge visitors to reconsider the ways in which they categorize people. Photos courtesy of American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota

An interactive game about the traits people share yields surprising results that challenge visitors to reconsider the ways in which they categorize people. Photos courtesy of American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota

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According to the 2000 Census, Washington state ranks ninth in the country for interracial marriages. Overall, people of color make up more than 34 percent of Seattle residents. 

“RACE: Are We So Different?” at the Pacific Science Center and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience’s exhibit “War Baby/Love Child” each take a different angle on racial themes and address some common misconceptions about race.

“There is a lot of great work being done by all sizes of local arts and cultural groups around the topic of race,” said Diana Johns, vice president of exhibits for Pacific Science Center. “Pacific Science Center is happy to be able to contribute to this continuum of broader community conversation alongside local institutions like the Wing.” 

“RACE: Are We So Different?,” a traveling exhibit developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association (AAA), approaches the topic of race through the lens of science and explores the biology, history and culture of race. Since 2007, the exhibit has traveled to more than 25 cities around the country. 

The exhibit — containing interactive maps, photographs, historical artifacts, computer simulations of gene flows and multimedia presentations — opens at the Pacific Science Center on Sept. 28 and runs through Jan. 5, 2014. 

“By addressing the early science that shaped our [mis]conceptions of race in the past, while also laying out our current understanding of human genetic variation, the exhibit hopes to help guests understand what race is and what race is not,” Johns explained. “The exhibit demonstrates the effects that these misconceptions have had and continue to have by illustrating the inequities that have been baked into the structure of our modern society.” 

The exhibit explores the science of human variation (giving visitors an opportunity to scan their skin and use an animated map to explore the geographic spread of diversity over time), the history of the idea of race and race in contemporary life. 

For more information, call (206) 443-2001 or visit pacificsciencecenter.org. 

Different races, approaches

The Wing’s exhibit “War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art,” curated by DePaul University associate professor Laura Kina and San Francisco State University associate professor Wei Ming Dariotis, includes works by 19 mixed-race artists and brings to light the different approaches to the identities and experiences of mixed Asian Americans and mixed Pacific Islander Americans. 

The project makes visible underrepresented histories with Asian-American studies, mixed-race studies and contemporary art. Through video, installation and other approaches, artists explore a range of topics, including multiculturalism, gender and sexual identity, citizenship and nationality, and transracial adoption. 

One such piece, “Guardian,” a painting at the entrance of the exhibit, gives a nod to creator Louie Gong’s Native and Chinese roots, with two foo dogs and three eagles stacked like a totem pole. 

This exhibition and an accompanying book published by the University of Washington map out and contextualize the lives and works of these artists. 

“The assumption persists that mixed Asians fall into one of two categories: either ‘war babies’ (brought into existence through U.S. wars in Asia) or ‘love children’ (the product of illicit relationships or the free love of the post-civil rights and post-hippie era),” notes the exhibition’s wall text. 

Planning for the exhibit began in 2008, with assistance from a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and opened at DePaul University in Chicago. “We all became like an extended family,” Kina said of those who participated and were touched by the project. “I think, by and large, it’s been really, really positive.” 

Since then, in the 2010 Census, more than 9 million Americans (or 2.9 percent of the population) identified as having more than one race. According to the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, 5 percent of Seattle’s population identified as mixed-race, making this group among the fastest-growing in Seattle. 

“Asians remain the fastest-growing racialized group in the United States: 2.6 million — out of 17.3 million Asians — identified as Asian, plus one or more other races,” further notes the exhibition’s wall text. 

“War Baby/Love Child” will continue through Jan. 19, 2014, at The Wing’s George Tsutakawa Art Gallery. The Wing is located in the International District at 719 S King St. For more information, call (206) 623-5124 or visit warbabylovechild.com or wingluke.com. 

In addition, another exhibit at The Wing, “Under My Skin: Artists Explore Race in the 21st Century,” shares 26 artists’ creative visions of race; it runs through Nov. 17. 

JESSICA DAVIS is a Seattle-based arts writer. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.