I Am Many Tee

I Am Many Tee

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100% Cotton, 6oz
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Referential Artwork

Image courtesy of Hank Willis Thomas and Baltimore Museum of Art
I Am A Man, 2009
Liquitex on canvas
25 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. 55 ½" x 228 x 2 1/4 inches installed.
25 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 2 1/4 per panel

Design first presented here:
"Pitch Blackness", solo exhibiton at Jack Shainman Gallery, 2009

Artist Statement
For this painting, the artist was specifically inspired by a particular photograph from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, where a large group of black men assembled with protest posters bearing the same message and nearly identical typeface. The artist has also created many other version of this painting that play with the orientation and wording of the text (ie: A Man I Am, I Be a Man, I Am Many, I Am The Man, etc.), reflecting historically on the variations that have been used before, and speculating on how they may continue in the future. Of this series the artist recalls:“I was born in 1976, and I was amazed that just eight years before I was born it was necessary for people to hold up signs affirming their humanity. The phrase that I grew up with was “I am the man,” which is also influenced by African-American culture but takes a very different starting point. What I was interested in was, how many other ways could I read that phrase?… In the U.S. Constitution, blacks were considered three-fifths of a man. Then there was the slogan adopted by the Quakers, “Am I not a man and a brother?” There are a lot of other references, like “Ain’t I a Woman?” is a reference to Sojourner Truth’s famous speech, but also the Women’s Liberation movement. The final painting in the group says “I am. Amen.” The greatest revelation should be that we are.” —Hank Willis Thomas