Topsy Turvy Tarp
digital inkjet on scrim tarplin
144 x 189
Commissioned by Thurgood Marshall College at the University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA

Press Release

The public arts installation Topsy-Turvy Tarp provokes constructions of class and identity while engaging the public with a dichotomous past and present. The high resolution scan of the 1950’s topsy-turvy doll was chosen in relation to Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s Doll Test used by Justice Thurgood Marshall in the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, deeming segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional.

In the 1940’s The Doll Test was given to children attending segregated schools in Washington, D.C. along with children enrolled in integrated schools in New York. The test involved presenting each child with two identical dolls except for hair and skin color; one doll was white with yellow hair and the other was brown with black hair. The child was then asked to complete a series of tasks and questions including:

1. Give me the doll that you like to play with the best.
2. Give me the doll that is a nice doll.
3. Give me the doll that looks bad.
4. Give me the doll that is a nice color.
5. Give me the doll that looks like a white child.
6. Give me the doll that looks like a colored child.
7. Give me the doll that looks like a Negro child.
8. Give me the doll that looks like you.

The results showed a racial preference for the white dolls over black, and validated the internalized self-hatred among black children within segregated schools. The Topsy-Turvy Tarp functions in a state of protest against the realities of separatism, false ideologies and prevailing prejudice waiting to turn.
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