Earlier this week, The Hill School welcomed Kip Fulbeck, a pioneering artist, professor, spoken word performer, author, and filmmaker who uses his art to explore multiracial identity.
In addition to addressing students and faculty in a school-wide talk on Monday evening (Oct. 22), Fulbeck visited with some of Hill’s arts and humanities classes during his time on campus.
In his talk for students and faculty, he shared a great deal about his childhood growing up in Corvina, Calif. and being of mixed race- his mother is Asian and father is Caucasian. He addressed how identity is more than “checking off the appropriate box.”
Fulbeck presented pieces from his book projects, short film, and art exhibitions: Part Asian, 100% Hapa, Permanence: Tattoo Portraits and Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids, all of which feature a person photographed on a white background next to the person’s response to a question.
In his book about Hapa identity, which is a slang term that describes mixed heritage or having Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry, Fulbeck asked participants to respond to the question, “What are you?” This book became a well-received, five-month-long exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, where visitors could respond and display their own photos and responses to “What are you?”
Fulbeck stressed that his books are not about race, but rather identity. “No one gets to tell you who are are,” said Fulbeck. “You define yourself and create your own identity.” He also said diversity encompasses more than race, including gender, economic status, physical abilities, country of origin, body type, and many other factors.
“These projects forced me to be around people who were different than me,” said Fulbeck. “I got to meet some of the most amazing, courageous people,” noting specifically in his Permanence: Tattoo Portraits project, he met soldiers, cancer patients, and survivors of Auschwitz.
Fulbeck visited The Hill as the School’s fourth speaker in the School’s Thomas G. Ruth Speakers Series. This series was created in honor of longtime, beloved Instructor of History Emeritus
Tom Ruth, who taught at The Hill for 33 years and passed away in February 2016.
In addition to his above projects, Fulbeck is a professor of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been featured on CNN, MTV, The Today Show, and PBS, and has performed and exhibited in over 20 countries and throughout the U.S. and is the director of a dozen short films including Banana Split and Lilo & Me, which he shared with Hill students and faculty at the end of his presentation.