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Artist Explores the "Hapa" Experience

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Signs of a New Identity, Hapa Project

Image from the book The Hapa Project by Kip Fulbeck.

Kip Fulbeck grew up “hapa.” “Hapa,” the Hawaiian word for “half,” is a term often used for mixed-race people, usually part-Asian. As a kid, Fulbeck rarely saw multiracial Asians on TV or in books, and thought he was “the only one.” A few years ago, he created the book he wished he’d had access to then, The Hapa Project, a series of photos and essays documenting the part-Asian experience.

Fulbeck photographed his subjects at their most essential, with little makeup or facial expression. He provided space for each to answer the question, “What are you?” The answers underscore the ambiguity of occupying more than one cultural and racial space. “Some days I’m very Malay,” writes a young woman, “Other days I’m more ‘white,’ American, whatever. But on certain special days, I’m both. Those are the best.”  

Fulbeck has since completed a new project, Mixed Kids (, a book of portraits of multiracial children.

  • VIDEO: Kip Fulbeck talks about creating the book he always wanted as a kid.

Ashlee Green wrote this piece for America: The Remix, the Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Ashlee is an editorial intern at YES!


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