This exhibition features nine prints by prominent contemporary artist Glenn Ligon, given to Gettysburg College by Dr. Kimberly Rae Connor ’79. The lithographs examine the critical place of slave narratives, oppression and freedom in African-American history and identity.
Glenn Ligon was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1960. Ligon’s paintings and sculptures examine cultural and social identity through found sources—literature, Afrocentric coloring books, photographs—to reveal the ways in which the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and sexual politics inform our understanding of American society. Ligon appropriates texts from a variety of literary writers including Walt Whitman, Zora Neal Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison, as well from more popular sources such as the comedian Richard Pryor. In Ligon's paintings, the instability of his medium—oil crayon used with letter stencils—transforms the texts he quotes, making them abstract, difficult to read, and layered in meaning, much like the subject matter that he appropriates. In other works that feature silkscreen, neon, and photography, Ligon threads his own image and autobiography into symbols that speak to collective experiences.