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These activities focus on works of art in the Whitney’s collection and special exhibitions. Through discussion, research, art making, and writing activities, we hope to encourage close looking, foster conversation between students, and connect artwork to classroom learning. Learn about our four artist-centered themes.

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Connect art and writing.

Glenn Ligon is interested in words and text and how they might represent or misrepresent a given idea. In Untitled (I Do Not Always Feel Colored), Ligon borrowed a phrase from Zora Neale Hurston’s 1928 essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me.” In this essay, Hurston described how she did not see herself as black or different from other people until, at the age of thirteen, she was sent to school outside of Eatonville, Florida, the tightly-knit African American community where she grew up. 

Ligon said, “One of the things that I’ve always been interested in was the connection or collision of identities–that something written by [Zora Neale] Hurston in the 20s could seem incredibly relevant and autobiographical in some sense, that one could inhabit it.”

Ask students to think about a book they have read, a song they have listened to, or a speech they have heard, that they related to, even if it was from a different time, place, or culture. Ask students to share what the book, song or speech is about. Why do they feel that connection?

1. Glenn Ligon, Interview with David Drogin, 2010,