Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity

January 25 – March 20, 2011

“The images reflect the complex dynamics between people and within the minds of individuals as they participate in and contribute to a composite, inestimable culture. We, as Americans, would need an infinite mirror to see our full reflection.” – Blake Bradford, Infinite Mirror Curator and Director of Education, Barnes Foundation

American artists of African, Arab, European, Asian, Latino and Native American descent explored their heritage in this vivid and diverse exhibition using a wide variety of media. The artists examined patriotism, communication, struggle for acceptance, being an American in the 21st century, and more. Humor, heartache, anger, apprehension—all emotions are evoked by these works, raising questions about race, class, gender and age.

The United States was founded on the principal of E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—a concept that acknowledges our diversity and expresses our unity around shared values. Tolerance and the belief in equality are principles that bring together 300 million people spread over four million square miles.

Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity told the story of generations of Americans through artists’ examination of themes such as race, gender, religion, history, politics and family. Utilizing portraiture and figuration to represent emotional and social ideas, these artists created works that are simultaneously narrative, reflective, autobiographical and universal.

In analyzing the diversities in the American population, Infinite Mirror speaks to myriad experiences and the ways we form and connect to an American identity. Primarily focusing on printmaking as a medium, these artists showed an array of triumphs, tragedies, relationships and traditions that inform our notions of nationhood. Infinite Mirror examines ideas of patriotism, communication, the struggle for acceptance, and what it means to be an American in the 21st century.

Four main themes ran through Infinite Mirror: Self-Selection, Pride, Assimilation and Protest, providing audiences with the opportunity to explore both the story and storytellers of the quintessential “American dream.”


Since 2009, Infinite Mirror curator Blake Bradford has been director of education at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where he oversees the Foundation’s longstanding adult classes, its K-12 outreach and other public programming. Previous projects exhibitions have included Disinhibition: Black Art and Blue Humor and Material Science, which explored the sensory qualities of artistic media. Co-curators are Benito Huerta, associate professor of painting and director and curator of The Gallery at the University of Texas at Arlington and Robert Lee, executive director and curator at Asian American Arts Centre in New York.


Infinite Mirror is developed by Artrain, Inc. and Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA, and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. Presented with support from the Institute of Museum & Library Services and the National Endowment for the Arts.