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(American, b. 1960)
One of four soft-ground etchings, aquatint, spit bite, and sugarlift on Fabriano
Support: Rives BFK white wove, mould made paper
Sheet: 64 x 44 cm (25 3/16 x 17 5/16 in.); Platemark: 60 x 40.2 cm (23 5/8 x 15 13/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1994.159.1
Edition: 45 plus 10 APs
Ligon explores ways in which identity is constructed in relation to others or to suit the expectations of a specific audience. The two etchings from this suite printed in black on white paper repeat the sentences "I do not always feel colored" and "I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background," quotes from Zora Neale Hurston's 1928 essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me." Ligon explained that "the prints play with the notion of becoming 'colored' and how that 'becoming' obscures meaning [obscures the text] and also creates this beautiful, abstract thing." The other two prints iterate the first lines of Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel Invisible Man. Ligon found that "Ellison uses the metaphor of invisibility to describe the position of blacks in this country—as ghost, present and real but, because of the blindness of racism, remaining unseen." By placing black text on a black background so that it is nearly illegible, Ligon literally did the same.
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