de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history


The Hapa Project: Kip Fulbeck

September 27 – December 13, 2008


Once a derogatory label derived from the Hawaiian word for “half,” Hapa has since been embraced as a term of pride by many whose mixed racial heritage includes Asian or Pacific Island descent. Kip Fulbeck began The Hapa Project as a forum for Hapas to answer the question “What are you?” in their own words and be pictured in simple head-on portraits. Traveling throughout the country, he photographed over 1200 people from all walks of life—from babies to adults, construction workers to rock stars, gangbangers to pro surfers, schoolteachers to porn stars, engineers to comic book artists. The project now includes a book, traveling photographic exhibition, and online community. This exhibition will include 30 images from The Hapa Project.

Kip Fulbeck is the author of Part Asian, 100% Hapa (Chronicle Books) and Paper Bullets: A Fictional Autobiography (University of Washington Press), as well as the director of a dozen short films including Banana Split and Lilo & Me. Fulbeck has performed and exhibited at venues throughout the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, Singapore International Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Bonn Videonale, National Conference On Race in Higher Education, and Honolulu Contemporary Arts Museum. He has also been featured on CNN, MTV, and PBS. He speaks nationwide on identity, multiraciality, art, and pop culture—mixing together spoken word, stand-up comedy, political activism, and inspiring personal stories to standing ovations. An avid surfer, guitar player, motorcycle rider, and ocean lifeguard, Fulbeck teaches as Professor of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is a four-time recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Member Award. He is also a nationally-ranked Masters swimmer who placed 10th in the world in 2007. His most recent book, Permanence: Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck, was published by Chronicle Books in 2008.

The presentation of The Hapa Project and the related programs are co-sponsored by the de Saisset Museum, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Provost’s Council on Inclusive Excellence, the Center for Student Leadership, the Office of Student Life, the Ethnic Studies Program, the Office for Multicultural Learning, and the Center for Performing Arts.

Complementary Student Exhibition: Who I Am                                                                                                                             
Inspired by Kip Fulbeck’s The Hapa Project, Lecturer Renee Billingslea worked with students in her Exploring Society through Photography course to volunteer in a local homeless shelter and to take portraits of its residents. Students asked the residents to respond to the question “Who are you?” The resulting responses and the images taken by the students, will be on view in a special complement to the The Hapa Project exhibition.

Community Gallery
As a special complement to the exhibition The Hapa Project, the Museum will encourage visitors to contribute to a special community gallery. Like Kip Fulbeck in The Hapa Project, we will ask visitors to respond to the question: “What are you?” by submitting images that best represent them. If you would like to submit images for the community gallery, please send the image to Include information about the image and how it represents you. Be sure to include whether you would like your name associated with the image. You can also bring in images to the Museum for submission during regular open hours.