Glenn Lignon at the Whitney Museum.

(2008 footage of Lignon’s work, textimonies, narrated by Kayla Kuhn)

On March 10 the Whitney Museum of American Art will present “Glenn Ligon: America,” more than 100 Lignon works, which will be on view through June 5.

Most famous for his abstract text-meets-paintings (and popular for the Obama’s for buying some of it for their digs in being lent to the Obamas for dsiplay at the White House), the black,  gay artist Glenn Lignon‘s work focuses on what he describes as “outsiderness.” As he tells the Root, “It’s not only about race relations, but about what it means to be a stranger anywhere. How does one break down the barrier between people? It’s a global question, and it probably reflects what I’ve been trying to do — reach out more.”

Although Lignon’s work springboards off of a personal connection and perception of our union his view is very universal:

Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney curator who organized the exhibit, considers Ligon a universal artist. “Glenn has figured out how to make art that involves his personal history and cultural background in a way that doesn’t feel limited but actually speaks to all of us,” Rothkopf says. “In fact, the reason I proposed calling his retrospective Glenn Ligon: America was to get beyond the idea that his work addresses the concerns of only African Americans or gay Americans, because we’re all part of this larger story.

“Someone once said that Glenn makes work about being black and gay,” Rothkopf continues, “and I replied, that may be true, but if that’s the case, then it’s also about what it means to perceive somebody as black and gay, and in that sense, it really concerns everyone, how we understand and interact with one another.”

Read on at The Root

For some video of the artist speaking about his work, the SF MoMa


Naima "Nai" Ramos-Chapman is the Associate Editor at Campus Progress, a dancer with Taurus Broadhurst Dance in D.C., and an aspiring visual artist (she doodles). Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Naimaramchap.