Half Indian/Half Mexican
United States, born 1950
Half Indian/Half Mexican, 1991
three black and white photographs, photographer: Richard A. Lou
30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm), each of 3
Gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation
© Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
When In Time
Leo Fender invents the electric guitar
James Luna born in the United States
Martin Luther King Jr. gives his I Have a Dream speech
First skateboard invented
Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman
Luna makes Half Indian/ Half Mexican
World Wide Web (www) invented for the Internet
Who What Where When Why
Who is the
What is the name of the artwork?
Half Indian/Half Mexican
What materials were used?
Three black and white photographs
Where is the artist from?
When was the artwork made?
James Luna is a Luiseño Indian who lives on the La
Jolla Reservation in San Diego County. Luna went to the University of
California, Irvine where he studied painting. Even though Luna is a
painter, he felt that the best way to talk about himself and his family
background was through performance and installation
art. In 1987, Luna created a performance piece,
called Artifact Man, at the Museum of Man, San Diego. For this piece,
Luna laid in a display case at the museum. The visitors were surprised
to find that Luna was alive. Luna did this to critique the way that
museums normally display Indian history.
In Half Indian/Half Mexican, there are
three black and white photographs of Luna’s face. The photograph on the
left is of the left side of his face. This side has Luna with long hair
and no facial hair. Luna says this photo shows what he looks like as an
Indian. The photograph on the right is a photograph of the right side
of Luna’s face. This side has Luna with short, slicked back hair and a
moustache. Luna says this photo shows what he looks like as a Mexican.
The middle photograph is a photograph of Luna’s face from the front, and
it shows both sides of his face—the left side that represents him as an
Indian and the right side that represents him as a Mexican. The
middle photograph is used to show us that Luna’s background has two
parts to it: half Indian and half Mexican.
How does Luna show the stereotypes of his two family backgrounds?
Why do you think that Luna wanted to show his family background?
How are the photographs on the left and the right similar? How are they different?
What would your photograph look like if you showed your family background? Would you incorporate stereotypes? Why or why not?
Installation - A work of art
that is created for a specific place, often using materials or physical
features from that place.