Born in southeastern Pennsylvania in 1946, James (Jaime) Browning Wyeth joined a family of artists. His father was the famous painter Andrew Wyeth, and his paternal grandfather, N.C. Wyeth, was a well-known illustrator; two aunts and an uncle also were artists. Jamie Wyeth’s paintings often are set in rural Northeastern landscapes he knew well. Kalounna in Frogtown sets its subject, a young Laotian refugee with whom Wyeth had formed a friendship, against a scene from a small Pennsylvania community called Frogtown, near Wyeth’s home. He had been struck by the juxtaposition of the large red truck and the house’s matching shutters. What effects does he achieve, and what questions does he raise, by placing his human subject, Kalounna, against this backdrop? This image would be especially suitable for discussions of immigration, multiculturalism, identity, and difference.
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Kalounna in Frogtown by Jamie Wyeth. 1986. Oil on canvas, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago.
How do we recognize sameness but acknowledge difference(s)?Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift?Is diversity important? Why?What assumptions do we make about others?How do we respond to strangers?What does it mean to be a stranger or an outsider? What does it feel like?Who gets left out and why?How do we define who we are?How do you understand your own identity? How does it relate to the communities you are a part of?How does my race, culture or ethnicity shape who I am?What assumptions do we make about people from different races, ethnicities and cultures?What is racism?