Glenn Ligon: One Black Day (II)

Glenn Ligon (b. 1960, Bronx, NY)
One Black Day (II), 2017
Neon and paint
Courtesy the artist

The Studio Museum in Harlem believes that the radical voices of artists telling the truths of the moment are essential to democracy. The Museum has long been committed to giving artists a space to share their provocations and insight—artist Glenn Ligon’s One Black Day (II) (2017), currently on display in the Museum’s window, is the most recent example of this.

As seen in his iconic neon work Give Us a Poem (2007), which hangs in the atrium of the Studio Museum, the artist is known for exploring the relationship between the self and collective identity. Ligon produced One Black Day (II) to establish a dialogue with One Black Day (2012), a neon piece he created while considering the potential outcomes of the 2012 presidential election. One Black Day represents Election Day, November 6, 2012, and was lit only for that day. In a similar gesture, Ligon will illuminate One Black Day (II) on the last day of President Obama’s tenure—January 20, 2017. Whether the date represented by One Black Day (II) references the departure of the first African-American President from the White House or serves as a monument to the progress made politically and socially over the last eight years, Ligon’s title invites multiple interpretations.

The Studio Museum is committed to providing a space for artists to let their voices be heard. In turn, Ligon implores each one of us to ascribe our own meaning to the date January 20, 2017. One Black Day (II) will be installed in the window of the Studio Museum through Tuesday, January 31, 2017.