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Artist Hank Willis Thomas Installs 25-foot Afro Pick Monument in West Philly

October 1, 2020

Love this! Many of y’all might remember back in 2017 when artist Hank Willis Thomas installed an 8-foot tall Afro Pick monument next to the former Rizzo statue at MSB Plaza in Center City, Philadelphia as part of the city-wide exhibition Monument Lab, and this week the artist is back with a 25-foot version of the sculpture installed on 52nd Street off Arch Street in West Philadelphia!

Titled All Power to All People, Hank’s artwork is a larger than life steel sculpture of the iconic Afro Pick. “It stands as a symbol of community, strength, perseverance, comradeship, equal justice, and belonging,” the project’s website reads. “The piece offers an opportunity to reflect on a storied culture and a 6,000 year history of the artifact and of grooming culture.” And as someone who thinks a lot about the public space, including art and monuments in the public space (I worked on the Monument Lab project, after all,) I find this statement from Hank Willis Thomas found on project’s banner on-site at 52nd Street super interesting: “Public monuments have a higher charge now. They can celebrate a specific individual, or a group of people, but they should also invite a broader conversation about how memorial can connect to the rest of the world and represent its people.” YES!

Hank’s 25-foot monument was brought to this location by Kindred Arts, an arts nonprofit based in New York City, and Little Giant Creative, a Philly-based full-service creative agency. (P.s. I interviewed the co-founder of Little Giant Creative, Tayyib Smith, in May of this year for the Streets Dept Podcast, and you can listen to that here!)

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, this is just the first of three total large-scale temporary installations that will be popping up around Philly soon, the other two by artists Kehinde Wiley and Arthur Jafa. The Inquirer also says that Hank’s All Power to All People monument will be moving around Philly too. But it’s all under wraps for now, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for more information as they release it!

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