As part of the Year in Art Effort, every week Washington Project for The Arts and BYT will come together to give you a tidbit of the (some may say surprisingly?) colorful DC Art History. Be ready to be a cocktail party conversation star. This week:
Every now and then someone really pushes the boundaries of social norms. David Hammons literally flipped them. In an installation on 7th street in 1989, David Hammons installed a very large mural of a white, blonde Reverend Jesse Jackson with the words “How Ya Like Me Now?”, from the song by rapper Kool Mo Dee on the bottom.
It was located near the National Portrait Gallery, to draw attention to the fact that there were no portraits of African Americans. And if Reverend Jesse Jackson was white, maybe, just maybe, the National Portrait Gallery would have a portrait of him.
Obviously, the context that Hammons wanted people to get out of the piece missed a few. The mob people who were opposed to the mural decided to try to take it down, even though there is the First Amendment still around I believe.
So after they knocked the mural off (not ultimately damaged), Hammons decided to move the Washington Project for the Arts gallery. In the gallery though he placed sledgehammers and Lucky Strike cigarettes on some of the sledgehammers. It was as if he wanted to insight a riot inside the gallery after the one outside.
Washington Project for the Arts is celebrating it’s 35th Birthday this Year. Learn more here: http://www.wpadc.org/
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