JENNA PARK – About Our Family, 2011

Jenna Park The Mixed Race Project

(c) Jenna Park

Is there anything more precious than a child in formal attire? The dainty little girl dressed in a traditional Korean hanbok is one of Jenna Park’s daughters. She is part of the inspiration for, and subject of, The Mixed Race Project; a photographic documentary series which explores the lives of mixed race families by picturing them in their own homes.

The project began as an organic outgrowth of Park’s blog, Sweet Fine Day, where she chronicles her life with husband, Mark, daughters, Mia and Claudine, and their adventures running the Brooklyn Confectionery, Whimsy & Spice. She is Korean American and Mark is of Russian, Norwegian, and Italian descent. Her honest, thoughtful style is immediately engaging and it is no wonder that readers connected with her musings on raising mixed children.

Using personal experience as a jumping off point, Park launches into discussions of identity that are heartwarming, timely, and real. She grew up negotiating the Korean traditions of her family with the mainstream American context in which she was raised. For the first time, I am seeing a home filled with a blend of cultural elements- traditional Asian clothing, Christmas tree- that looks like the one I grew up in, and the one I am creating now.

By first including her own family, Park has engaged the anthropological tradition of participant observation and the resultant trust is reflected in the intimate access she is granted with others. Nobody is putting on a show. Sometimes toys are scattered about and the laundry isn’t put away. Life is messy, and so too are racial politics. But then, in the words of Jenna’s father, “In the end, we’re all family.”

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About Lizzie Mariko

exploring the world of mixed heritage art at eachoneallmuch.wordpress.com

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