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Maker(s):Pensato, Joyce
Culture:American (1941-2019)
Title:Psycho-Killer Felix from the Exit Art portfolioTantra
Date Made:2005
Type:Print; Drawing
Materials:Lithograph with charcoal, pastel, fixative, and distressing handworking on Somerset
Measurements:Overall: 30 in x 22 in x 1 in; 76.2 cm x 55.9 cm x 2.5 cm
Accession Number:  UM 2012.6.3.5
Credit Line:Gift of Exit Art, New York
Museum Collection:  University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

comic book character

Label Text:
Curatorial Fellowship exhibition: What's So Funny: How Humor Makes Us Think, March 21 - April 28, 2019
Pensato regularly makes cartoonish creatures the subject of her work. Yet, here, the joy and comfort typically associated with these smiling characters becomes perverted. Like many other animated characters from the early 20th century - from Mickey Mouse to Felix the Cat - there is an undeniable influence of blackface and minstrel shows in the appearance of Psycho Killer Felix. Here, the exaggerated eyes and wide, white mouth emphasize qualities of blackface minstrelsy that contributed to the spread of offensive racial stereotypes of African-Americans throughout the United States from the nineteenth century to today. When matched with the title of “psycho killer,” this figure becomes sinister and potentially harmful. Psycho Killer Felix raises the question: when beloved characters, such as Felix the Cat, derive from racist origins, how are they accomplices in the perpetuation of harmful racist stereotypes?
- Kayla Peterson (M.A. Art History, 2020) and Siyu Shen (M.A. Art History, 2020

animals; cartoons; fictitious characters; caricatures

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