Aug 2, 2018

The Bad Air Smelled of Roses: It Ain’t A Ebony Jet Showcase Production!

The Bad Air Smelled of Roses: It Ain’t A Ebony Jet Showcase Production!


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Carl Pope Jr. the artist at York Show Print, York, Alabama

(American, b. 1961)

Letterpress poster

48.3 x 35.6 cm (19 x 14 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund and gift of David Lusenhop in honor of the artist 2018.33.83



Carl Pope Jr. challenges us to look beyond mainstream preconceptions of Blackness in society. Here, behind the bold poetic text, we see a mosaic of Black faces. The artist made these prints in a letterpress shop. In addition to cases of movable type used to create text, these workshops often have large collections of historic photorelief blocks—halftone headshots and stock images produced for everything from newspapers and posters to sheet music covers. While the printed materials were ephemeral, the printing blocks were saved, to be reused when an individual was back in the news or returned to town; the printed images sat in drawers awaiting an unknown future world of possibilities.

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