Monday, January 31, 2011

Adrian Piper

Adrian Margaret Smith Piper

Her Life:

Adrian was born September 20, 1948, and is recognized as a first generation conceptual artist ad analytic philosopher. She was born in New York City, and lived for many years in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Soon after her time in Cape Cod, Adrian left the United States and lived and worked in Berlin, where she runs the APRA Foundation Berlin. APRA is The Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation. Prior to her foundation Adrian Piper attended Riverside Church, and then New Lincoln School throughout grammar school and high school. As well during high school she attended Art Students’ League during her high school years.

At the age of 20 she began exhibiting her artwork internationally, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969 with an A.A. in Fine Art and a concentration in painting and sculpture. Later on Piper received her B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Musicolody from the City College of New York in 1974. She received her B.A. while producing and exhibiting her artwork, and received Summa Cum Laude with Research Honors for her degree. After her B.A. she continued her studies and attended Harvard University Graduate School in Philosophy where she received her M.A. in 1977 and a Ph.D. in 1981. Her total education lasted 27 years. Adrian Piper taught philosophy at a number of prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Georgetown, UCSD, Harvard, and Michigan. She quickly became recognized and became the first tenured African American woman professor in the field of philosophy.

Her Identity:

Adrian Piper confronts racial, class and gender stereotypes in her work and challenges dominant systems of all kinds. Piper's black identity is often overlooked because of her light skin tone, and she uses that in her work to call out privilege. In the 1980's her work was especially political, and focused on dynamics of perceptions of difference. Piper the first African American women to be tenured in the field of philosophy.

Her Legacy:

Adrian Piper made many great contributions to conceptual and philosophical art. One thing that Piper leaves behind is her contribution to art vocabulary to include veldic imagery where she introduced Sanskrit text with drawing, photography, and representations of a Vedic divinity. Along with this conceptshe is an inspiration in the yoga world as she came up with her own yoga practice. She has also made strides in the philosophy world where she was the first woman tenured African American professor in the philosophy field. She continues to make strides in her career and embark on many new adventures in her life and hopefully she will continue to enlighten the world with all she has to offer.

Pieces of Her Artwork:

Description: Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features. pencil on paper.

Date: June 21, 1981

Feminist Theory and Art Practices-

Adrian Piper, Pretend Not To Know, 1989 (three b/w photographs with silkscreen text, each 23" x 40")

Printed Art and Social Radicalism-

United States, born 1948

Calling cards

Offset lithographs, not dated

Adrain Piper, a light skinned African-American woman, had these cards printed tooffer to individuals who made assumptions about her identity.


  1. I find it very interesting the different fields of study Adrian Piper has degrees in, as well as the multiple areas of interest she has. Her artwork is extremely famous because she is regarded as an African American woman that produces pieces that contribute greatly to the conceptual and philosophical art, and yet she has a Ph.D, Master's degree and two other degrees in philosophy, rather than art. People always seem to amaze me! I also find it very interesting that she uses her light skinned tone as a way to call out privilege. I myself saw her and thought that she was an extremely fair African American woman. Using her so called "privilege" to draw attention to the issue of privilege in our world is an extremely brave and respected tactic.

  2. You all have certainly captured the most important aspects of Adrian Piper's work. we'll see more of her stuff in class, too. I especially like the idea that you included images. Nicely done. The overall post lacks a little coherence (frequently the result of group writing) and has a few typos, etc., but the content is excellent.