Late Nights at the Whitney
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Wardell Milan works in a variety of media, including collage, photography, and drawing, exploring themes of place and identity. He creates highly detailed dioramas with narrative scenes and recurring characters who reflect both personal and cultural histories. His solo exhibition, entitled _On Beauty_ at Annarumma Gallery in Naples, Italy (2011) includes black-and-white photographic cuttings and arrangements of boxers Jimmy Slade, Floyd Patterson, Ike Williams, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Wardell’s use of sports photographs coupled with explorations of black male identity and sexuality reference the work of artists such as Lyle Ashton Harris and Glenn Ligon, who became Wardell’s mentor during a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Working with YI Artists, Wardell challenged participants to think about personal, cultural and political histories as catalysts for creating art. For a project called Three Defenses, Wardell asked YI Artists to reflect on their relationships to objects in their lives while depicting them through photography, painting and drawing. For another project called I Am a Man..., Wardell asked YI Artists to reinterpret, in relation to today's world, the words in Glenn Ligon's painting, Untitled (I am a Man), 1980.