- Gallery Text
This print re-creates a document of the brutal history of slavery in the United States: an advertisement for the sale of 250 enslaved African men, women, and children. The artist provocatively inserts the silhouettes of contem-porary cultural icons Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jackson. Indicting the industries that have attained wealth from the labor—and spectacle—of Black athletes and performers while also recognizing the agency and accom-plishments of such individuals, this work asks if and how American society values Black lives and achievements.
A Surprising Material
This fibrous sheet of paper is made from elephant dung, an eco-friendly alternative to wood pulp. Plant fibers (like the blade of grass visible at center) can be extracted from animal waste to produce a pulp that is molded into sheets of paper, sometimes with added mate-rials—note the flecks of blue cotton. In addition to helping combat deforestation and elephant poaching, the dung paper industry sustains communities in various parts of Africa and Asia.
- Identification and Creation
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
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- Physical Descriptions
- Laser-cut relief print on handmade paper
- irregular: 61 × 43.2 cm (24 × 17 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- Signed: l.r., in graphite: Hank Willis Thomas '09
- Hank Willis Thomas, created 2009; [Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA], sold; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2018.
- State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
- © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
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- Exhibition History
32Q: 2240 18th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/19/2018 - 06/19/2019
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