Lightning Lipstick Analysis

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Lightning Lipstick and BLAH BLAH Society often forces biracial and multicultural people identify themselves with one ethnic group by denying the other part of their ethnic background. An analysis of the many scientific studies, literature, and art reveals the complexities of growing up with parents of different races. The tendency to prefer lighter skin effects how biracial children form their identities and often causes them to deny their black heritage. When specifically examining the painting Lightning Lipstick, by the painter Robert Colescott, and the scholarly article, “If you’re half black, you’re just black”: Reflected Appraisal and the Persistence of the One-Drop Rule by the researcher and professor Nikki Khanna, one can see how they…show more content…
When simply looking at the formal attributes of Lightning Lipstick the viewer can instantly see that this very large painting (90 x 114”) uses bright and bold colors. The painting is done in acrylic paints, acrylic paint is typically very flexible in how it can be are applied and how texture is expressed. When looking at the figures in the painting you can see that they are distorted and almost grossly cartoonish. The painting shows the history of biracial people. In the middle left part of the painting Colescott painted a map of the Caribbean and part of the southern United States. These areas have a long history of slavery and therefore of racial mixing. There is a color wheel showing a range of men from very dark to light skinned- the darkest man looks the saddest and the lightest looks the happiest. There is also a black woman who is in chains depicted in…show more content…
The bright colors and the deformed cartoonlike style in combination with the obvious history of racial mixing suggests the ugly past that is tied to biracial people who are both black and white. The painful and ugly history of rape and the mixing of blacks and whites within slavery is not only expressed through the figures but also through the use of bright colors that clash with each other and also through the cartoonlike distortion of the figures. The ‘ugly” style is meant to express the ugly and difficult history of biracial people. The style and color choice also addressed the subject of “passing” as another lighter race and the tendency of biracial people to choose their lighter skinned heritage over their black heritage. Robert Colescott was known for transgressively playing with themes of race and sex, he was very politically aware. His work first started getting attention when he did a series of painting that recreated iconic paintings and reimagined them with black figures. Lightning Lipstick was painted in 1994, when looking at it alongside the article by Khanna one could argue that the “One-Drop Rule” was (and is) playing a part in how race is view, more specifically, how biracial people are viewed. One could argue that Colescott could be addressing what he saw in his own life. He is using Lightning

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