Junk Prints: Anti-Racism You Can Wear

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of enjoying the indie design fabulosity that is the Craftacular, an annual market sponsored by Bust Magazine. For those of you who may not know about Bust, here’s the mag in a nutshell: feminism meets DIY meets up-and-coming musicians, writers, artists, and actors. Thanks to Bust, I can now brew my own beer at home, knit an extra boob for bra-stuffing, and find local designers that understand my desire to buck the system by rocking a piece of unique jewelry to contrast with my boring corporate attire. I found quite a bit of that at the Craftacular on Saturday, but I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of really innovative designers. One designer that stood out in my mind, however, was Chanel Kennebrew of Junk Prints.

I would have passed up the quiet booth in the corner if it weren’t for the beautiful, multicolored, metallic vintage purse I glimpsed. It was a tiny north star in a room full of distractions—jewelry here, shoes there, and an overabundance of human bodies cum consumers all searching for the perfect holiday gift. I made my way through the crowd over to Chanel’s booth, and was immediately thankful when I saw that a) the purse was still there, and b) that the clothing she displayed was the long-lost fashion twin of Racialicious! Of course, she had lighthearted items such as her vintage meets modern mashup outfits and her decoupage covered journals, but what caught my really caught my eye was her t-shirt on celebrity transracial adoption: She describes her “Colorblind Glasses” shirt on her website:

Color Blind seem to be all the rage in Hollywood these days. I mean, international babies are sooo ‘the new dog’ (which was ‘the new purse’ in a not so distant past). Are Madonna and Jolie ready for the commitment? Ah who knows. Love is love right? You,my friend don’t have to find a foreign baby to show your color blind spirit, nope, you show your spirit with this fancy pants shirt.

Chanel also designs digital prints that cover issues that would be quite familiar to Racialicious readers, for example, her “Silence” collection. The print entitled “Good Housekeeping” (pictured below) is described as follows:

Good Housekeeping critiques the magazine identity and questions the values that it imposes on racialized women in North America. The magazine identity is a contradicting ideology that promotes idealism through exploitation. The things that we (as the North American consumer) want are essentialized and viewed as ingrained desires. In actuality they are usually sold to us at the expense of ourselves. This can be seen throughout history as cultural appropriation, tokenism etc. The concepts of the magazine identity and media morals pose many problems for society in general. The affects are devastating for those that cannot be the ‘better self’ because society doesn’t recognize the existing racialized ‘self’. This group of images focuses an a group that will never achieve the magazine identity due to the fact that it has been excluded from it’s canon of idealistic values. They confront topics of identity, media values and the exploitation of women foreign to the mass consumer audience.

Lastly, check out her one-of-a-kind commentary a la t-shirt on the Don Imus debacle:

You know about Don Imus Right? He’s the was the sports announcer that got fired for calling a Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.” He recently received a multi-million dollar contract and prime morning-drive-time slot on a radio station. Wow, well I’ve been working on a graphic for this for a while but the most complicated part of doing that is, how do I make the connection with wigs and historic cosmetic homogenizing techniques without glorifying that crazy dude. Not sure if I’ve figured that out so I’m trying out a few ideas on some gently worn thrift.

Chanel’s work is fun, but has a message as she fuses statements on our society with some pretty fun wares. I highly recommend taking a look at her website as well as her Etsy store. You can also friend her on facebook.com and myspace. So if you’re still looking for stocking stuffers for your friends who are a little on the intense side or who just happen to have everything, it’s definitely worth giving Junk Prints a looksie.