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Glenn Ligon

Untitled (America), 2018

Neon and paint

Lent by Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland

Glenn Ligon uses texts by favorite authors to reflect on key fault lines in society, such as race and sexuality. Here the text is a single word, but one rich with myriad meanings for different groups: “America.” Spelled in all capital letters, in glowing red neon, and upside down, it conveys a sign of distress. Ligon’s works often address the aftershocks of slavery in American life and the continuing struggle for social justice. He says, “We always imagine that slavery is something in the past and that we as a society have gotten over it… But if you think about slavery as there when our laws and institutions are being created—when our Declaration of Independence is being written, when our courts are being formed—it is this moral dilemma at the core of our democracy and we still feel its effects.”
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