African American artworks from the permanent collection of the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame will be on view thorugh March 13, 2016.
A featured sculpture is Richard Hunt’s Maquette for Wing Generator, 1982/2010, which developed one of Hunt’s major themes—hybridization of the Greco-Roman winged victory motif with mythological bird forms found on African iron staffs. The sculpture is a prototype for a gravesite monument commissioned through the will of Hunt’s deceased friend Hobart Taylor Jr. Taylor achieved victory through a successful private and public life as a civil rights lawyer, as an attorney for the City of Detroit, as a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff for the enactment of civil rights legislation, and as a successful corporate lawyer. The winged victory motif also symbolizes the Christian victory of life after death.
An avid collector of African art, Hunt owns iron staffs featuring abstract bird forms. His use of this symbol in Wing Generator acknowledges the traditional meaning associated with the staffs: birds are linked with the mind and with personal destiny. This metaphor is especially significant for Wing Generator because Taylor’s only requirement for the memorial sculpture (communicated through his will) was that it include the phrase “There are no barriers to the mind.”
The exhibition also includes work by Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Renee Stout. View the exhibition catalog here.
Originally published at snitemusem.nd.edu on January 24, 2016.