MY WHITE FRIENDS
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Throughout her life, Myra Greene has been questioned about her accumulation of white friends, as if her African-
American heritage should dictate a particular social circle. Conversations about race in the United States tend to focus on
the position of the “other,” often against ideas of whiteness, a concept that is rarely openly discussed. Greene’s project
My White Friends (2008-2009) explores the challenges of describing race in any guise. Greene’s subjects are
confidants, mentors, and peers who have helped shape her understanding of her identity, even though their racial profiles
are radically different. Greene’s photographs ask the viewer to consider where whiteness resides. Is it in gesture or material
environment? In some images the environments suggest traditional arenas of whiteness, dictated by a sense of wealth
and power, while others are more ambiguous. The subjects’ gestures vary from showing ease to betraying vulnerability,
and their gazes shift from evasive to confrontational. Greene’s photographs force the black photographer, her white friends,
and the general viewer to examine friendship as well as stereotype.
Myra Greene was born in New York. She received her B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1997 and her M.F.A. in photography from the University of New Mexico in 2002. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums including: Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta; and Sculpture Center; New York. Greene is the recipient of the 2009 Illinois Arts Council fellowship in photography and has completed residencies in New York at Light Work, Syracuse and the Center for Photography at Woodstock. She currently lives in Chicago and is an assistant professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago.