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An Afternoon with Glenn Ligon

APR 15, 2011

YI Leader Shaniece introduces Glenn Ligon, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke

YI Leader Shaniece introduces Glenn Ligon, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke

For weeks, everyone in Youth Insights and the Education Department was bursting with excitement for Monday, March 28. That was the day artist Glenn Ligon agreed to meet with YI to discuss his work and artistic process. I had the great honor of introducing Glenn before he gave us an amazing insightful tour of his exhibition. Just in case you are unfamiliar with Glenn Ligon, here’s a little introduction.

Glenn was born and raised in the Bronx and continues to live and work in New York. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, Wesleyan University (where he received his BA), and participated in the Independent Study Program here at the Whitney in 1985. He is best known for his work that borrows from famous texts by authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, in addition to a small amount of self-generated text. Glenn works in multiple media, exploring themes of language, African-American history, culture, identity, and sexuality.

Glenn has had an ongoing relationship with the Whitney since his days in the Independent Study Program. His work was included in the 1991 and 1993 Biennial exhibitions as well as in numerous group exhibitions at the Museum throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and he had a solo show at the Whitney’s midtown branch in 1992. It truly was a pleasure to have him return to us this spring! Glenn is so down to earth and humorous that even his works that address complex issues were easy to discuss. It was so revealing to see his process and how it comes through in his work. The ways that his work has changed over time also offered new perspectives on the pieces. 

If you have not seen the exhibition yet, I highly recommend it! It is a must-see and if you’d like to join us for a tour, just give us a shout-out!

By Shaniece

Check out more photos from our talk with Glenn Ligon on Facebook and Flickr.

A teen perspective of Glenn Ligon’s talk, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Glenn Ligon takes it from the top, introducing YI teens to his exhibition, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Ligon discusses his work, Untitled (I am a Man), 1980, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Ligon shares his source material for the painting, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Teens from all YI programs gather round to hear Ligon speak about his work, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
YI leader Crystal takes a closer look at one of LIgon’s works, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
Ligon talks to the teens about his work, Malcom X (Version 1) #1, 2000, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke
YI Leaders (from front to back) Brandon, JiaMei and Cesar enjoying the talk, March 2011. Photograph by Tiffany Oelfke