VMFA_200102_012
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Glenn Ligon
A Small Band, 2015

"I had to, like, open the bruise up and let some of the blues . . . bruise blood come out to show them."
—- Daniel Hamm

Ligon has become one of the most influential artists of his generation. Working in a variety of media, from painting to neon sculpture and installations, he presents a raw examination of culture and social identity mediated through the lens of history, literature, iconic works of art, and material culture.

The title of this work is extracted from a quote by Daniel Hamm, imprisoned as part of the famed “Harlem Six” or “Blood Brothers,” a group of young black men wrongly accused of murder in 1965. Hamm and four other members of the group—Wallace Baker, William Craig, Ronald Felder, and Walter Thomas—were eventually exonerated. Robert Rice however remains incarcerated, serving a life sentence. In a statement shared a few days following his release from police custody, Hamm spoke publicly about the brutality he experienced at the hands of prison guards.

Hamm’s quote is particularly poignant against the current social landscape in which incidents of police violence against and wrongful incarcerations of young African American men have continued to rise.
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