Now I Know My ABC’s shows the effects of the 1976 decision by the US Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty. By 2004, at the time this piece was completed, 976 men and women had been put to death, and still counting. The 30 steel-engraved blocks bear the names of the executed and represent the idea that each of us was once a child—someone’s child. That initial innocence cannot be undone by any sentence, even the sentence of death.
Housed in a bullet-proof box, the stackable blocks are made of machined and hand-etched steel.
Lincoln Memorial: These Lincoln Logs are made of steel prison bars and commemorate Marian Anderson’s 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. After she was refused permission to perform at Constitution Hall because of her race. Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for Anderson to perform at the Memorial to a live audience of 70,000 people.
Separate but Equal
Separate but Equal: In 1896 the Plessy v. Ferguson case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. With only one dissenting voice, eight justices essentially legalized segregation. “Separate but Equal” remained in effect until Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argued Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
Made of cast iron, brass, and marble, the scales show that “separate but equal” remains a theory, never an actuality.
Even the Very Hairs on Your Head Are Numbered
Even the Very Hairs on Your Head Are Numbered: Racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system echoes the country’s economic disparity. In 2005, when this piece was made, research showed that black males were, and still are, incarcerated at a rate eight times to that of whites.
Made of blackened steel, human hair and brass, the brushes ask the question, What happens to creativity when access to education and resources is denied because of privilege?
The four sculptures in this series offer a look at the way the inequities in our social structure perpetuate the need for punishment, imprisonment, and generational hardship. Incarceration is one quick-fix solution to stop behaviors that cross the line into illegal acts, yet artists are some of the first people who have been known to cross those lines. Without equal privilege, access to education, and resources, some of the most creative thinking can end in sorrowful statistics.
These sculptures have been included in exhibitions (see resume): Loyal Opposition, Justice for All, and American Standards.