Two lithograph series by Glenn Ligon and Sedrick Huckaby recently acquired by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will go on display in an exhibition running April 30-Sept. 18 at the Fort Worth museum.
The Identity exhibition will feature Huckaby’s The 99%-Highland Hills and Ligon’s Runaways and will be paired with 17 additional prints and photographs from the Amon Carter’s collection in an exhibition that explores community, celebrity and individual identity. Admission is free.
“What we think of people’s true identity, who they really are, is often as much about how they present themselves to the world as it is shaped by others,” said Shirley Reece-Hughes, associate curator at the Amon Carter, who co-organized the exhibition with assistant curator Maggie Adler. “This exhibition shows that people are more complex than a set of data can possibly convey.”
Inspired partly by the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement’s attention to the social and economic disparity between the wealthy 1 percent of Americans and the rest of the population, Huckaby represented the 99 percent of his own Fort Worth neighborhood, Highland Hills. By relaying his neighbors’ voices through written quotes accompanying their images, Huckaby’s lithographic series of 101 individualized portraits explores whether a person’s identity can be more fully expressed through images wedded with descriptive words. Huckaby’s portraits are reflective of his community’s identity, revealing the similar values, activities, hopes and dreams that his neighbors share.
“This was an opportunity to move within my community,” Huckaby said. “I sketched people alone, capturing personal moments, and these moments tell a collective story. It gave a voice to people who don’t have one.”
In Runaways, Ligon asked 10 of his friends to write about him as if they were filling out a missing person’s report. When Ligon read his friends’ varied descriptions as a group, he felt they were eerie reminders of the advertisements 19th-century slave owners placed to find runaway slaves. Ligon, therefore, paired the text with images he borrowed from antislavery pamphlets and historical newspapers to emphasize the lasting impact of the Civil War on American society. “Runaways is about each person’s take on what my identity is and using the totality of the descriptions as a way of thinking about what identity might mean,” Ligon said in a 2010 interview.
Huckaby’s and Ligon’s works are exhibited alongside 17 prints and photographs from the museum’s collection of public figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King Jr. and Georgia O’Keeffe.
“Together these portraits represent the fluid meanings and constantly shifting role of identity in society from the 19th to the 21st centuries and the impossibility of defining a full person in writing or a captured image,” said Adler.
A native of Fort Worth, Huckaby has won numerous awards, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. His work can be found in permanent collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Ligon lives and works in New York. A midcareer retrospective of his work, Glenn Ligon: America, organized by Scott Rothkopf, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011 and traveled nationally, including to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Ligon has earned numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Skowhegan Medal for Painting and Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. His work can be found in many collections across the nation, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.