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"COLORING: NEW WORK BY GLENN LIGON"
2000-10-22 until 2001-02-11
Walker Art Center
Minneapolis, MN, USA

Glenn Ligon has been internationally recognized for paintings and prints that use language as both image and communication tool. He often addresses issues of race, culture, and identity by quoting from socially and politically charged material, including excerpts from the writings of James Baldwin, Richard Dyer, and Zora Neale Hurston; appropriated news photos of the 1995 Million Man March; and title pages from 19th-century slave narratives. He has consistently mined this cultural material for greater meaning and historical revelation.

For Coloring: New Work by Glenn Ligon, his first solo exhibition at the Walker, the artist has created new work that draws on an era of continuing personal fascination: 1970s America. It was a time of burgeoning racial consciousness among African Americans, whose new self-awareness reverberated in numerous everyday cultural manifestations. Ligon has chosen images from mass-produced, black-themed coloring books of the early 1970s and reproduced them as large-scale silkscreens on canvas. His use of vibrant colors in these works is a startling change for an artist known mostly for his black-and-white compositions.

These works continue Ligons investigation of language and appropriated images mediated by historical context. In his alphabet series, B invokes bee, butterfly, bad (ba-a-d), and brothers. Similarly, the images range from a pensive Malcolm X and gold-chained Isaac Hayes to a young African girl and a group of children playing basketball. These everyday representations of black life are intricately connected to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements that foreshadowed them and suggest an insertion of black people into the greater American and world history.

Also on view in the exhibition are the results of Ligons collaboration with young children in the Twin Cities area. During the summer of 2000, he made coloring sheets from the appropriated images and joined area children in coloring sessions. He is interested in the ways young children respond to images and words. This collaboration with Twin Cities community members was an unexpected, serendipitous follow-up to his earlier residency, during which Ligon worked with the Walkers Teen Arts Council to produce artworks based on the museums permanent collection.

Ligon is represented by several works in the Walkers permanent collection, including the recently acquired coal-dust painting Untitled (Stranger in the Village #16) (2000). He was included in the 2000 Kwangju Biennial, and has had solo exhibitions at several museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

IMAGE:
Glenn Ligons source material from 1970s coloring books courtesy the artist.


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