Skip to Main Content

Michelle Emami: Both, Neither and All of the Above

Category: Event Calendar

Date and Time for this Past Event



For mixed-race people, filling out your ethnic or racial background on a form can be a daunting task. Since the year 2000, Americans have been allowed to select multiple racial identities on the U.S. Census; however, on many other standard forms, you are usually forced to choose just one. While some forms have a box for “two or more races,” this option negates all racial identity, equating your race to “other”. Understanding and celebrating a wide variety of cultural backgrounds should be commonplace in America: why are we not making space for that on the most basic of platforms?

Mexican/Iranian artist Michelle Emami decided to use her artwork as a space to celebrate her mixed heritage. In Both, Neither and All of the Above, Emami explores both her Iranian and Mexican heritages through motifs and cultural symbols drawn from both cultures. Her work also confronts the negativity and profound prejudices she has experienced within her communities. She reflects on instances where she felt neither Mexican nor Iranian, and sometimes not even American. Yet with each work that explores different aspects of her identity, Emami asserts that she is not just one race or another, nor is she simply the sum of her parents’ cultures: she is unapologetically all of the above. This exhibition aims to celebrate her multicultural background and encourages others to take pride in their identity.