It’s time for another brief art lesson [and the crowd goes wild]!
The afro pick (or afro comb) installation above is the work of Hank Willis Thomas, a conceptual artist who works “primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture” (Artist’s bio).
The work, entitled “All Power to All People,” was one of the many fantastic pieces on display [in 2018] at Burning Man a “temporary city” built annually in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. According to a New York Times article on the “monumental art” of Burning Man, Thomas’s 24×10 foot tall installation is on tour throughout the United States this year.
Popularized in the 1970’s, the afro comb has a long, long history that dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt and [also] has roots in West Africa. You can read about that here: Combs from Kemet.
The 1970s-style afro pick typically includes the “peace sign” and the “raised fist”–as seen in Thomas’s work. It was–and still is–a symbol of Black unity, solidarity, collective identity, and Black empowerment.
The photo was shot by my pen friend Christine B, who participates in Burning Man every year. She surprised me last week with a few of these postcards and a very cool “Black Lives Matter” button. 🙂
I was not only happy to receive Christine’s postcards, but was elated that her photo led me to Hank Willis Thomas. A few summers ago, I photographed one of his other installations, but neglected to get the artist information [doh!]. Maybe, that work will be the subject of a blog post next week. Let’s see what time allows.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a bit of tree love.