Everyday Artists at Umich: Julia Khater

Part of Julia Khater’s photo series on eurocentric beauty standards

“I’ve always really liked creating things and doing all different types of art. I didn’t know anything about photography until this summer. I was thinking of taking a class in it, so I talked to my grandfather, and he’s just one of those people who’s had a million different jobs . . . he used to be a professional postcard photographer, so he was super into the idea. 

I know I’ve had a lot of ideas for projects and concepts for shoots, but I guess my brain is still pre-COVID, even though I’m talking about photography, which I learned during COVID. There are things that I just can’t do right now, because I want multiple people and I want to be safe, of course. It just gets to the point where production value is so low that I’m just going to have to postpone it . . . without people, I can’t always convey the message I want to, but I can find creative ways to edit my images and add elements of other photos. 

I’m just finishing a project for class and I’m so happy with my current prints. I’m half-Arab, half-white, and [I’ve been] more fortunate than a lot of non-white people, but I don’t fit that eurocentric beauty standard at all, and I just think those standards are stupid. 

Throughout childhood, when you’re growing up in a majority-white area, and you feel like there’s something wrong with you, those eurocentric beauty standards are kind-of ever-present in your mind, so these photos are visualizing and representing the effect those standards have on people of color. 

I draw a lot of my art from my passions, and right now anger and frustration are really present. A lot of this frustration comes from places where it has to do with race and ethnicity. A lot of people, if an issue doesn’t apply to you, it’s easy to brush off. I’m guilty of it too, [but] when it concerns [my identity], it doesn’t ever go away when you close the app. It’s there. It’s in my thoughts constantly. Identity amplifies my passions and emotions for those topics, and it directs them as well.

Is there anything else I’d like to say? Black lives matter. Free Palestine. Screw eurocentric beauty standards.”

 

Julia Khater is a sophomore in the RC, currently enrolled in RC Photography I. You can view more of her photography on her Instagram: @julia_khater_

Everyday Artists at UMich: Summer Nguyen

“My major in information science ties to people and how technology affects them, so even though I haven’t made art about tech, there’s definitely a link between how I care about people in my art and in my studies. I really like digital art, so I use a lot of digital software. I think it provides a lot more creative freedom.

One of the pieces I put the most work into was in my senior year of high school. It was a two part series about androgyny. In 2016, there was a lot of news about ‘millennial pink’, which steers away from the idea that only girls should wear pink, and I guess that was really interesting to me since I don’t really subscribe to traditional gender standards. I wanted to make a series that focused on that idea. I used the Pantone colors of the year: Rose Quartz, and [Serenity]. The style is realistic, but [they’re] bust portraits. If you look around the eyes, you can see drips; it’s fluid. It reflects that gender cannot be condensed or tied to one thing. 

Recently, I’ve been very interested in the value of art as a whole, especially expressing yourself through art. In contemporary art, it means a lot to the artist, but to an audience that doesn’t have a background, they maybe don’t resonate. That causes a whole cycle of like, do I understand art? Do I need to have a formal education in art to understand this? It makes me think a lot about artists on Instagram, like artists that mess around and do what they want because they can. I’m always thinking about, does art have to have value beyond aesthetics?” 

 

You can view part of Summer Nguyen’s 2016 series, as well as other designs and illustrations, on her website: https://snguyen.design/work/misc