In Liberty, Hank Willis Thomas renders a two-dimensional image as a three dimensional sculpture — modeled after an original photograph that appeared in Life Magazine in 1986, which featured a Harlem Globetrotter in front of the Statue of Liberty, spinning a basketball on his finger. Interested in popular culture, photographic history and sports as a metaphor for individual and collective struggle, Thomas created a life-size sculpture of the moment by casting the arm of retired NBA All-Star, Juwan Howard.
Liberty is part of Thomas’s Punctum series, which draws inspiration from the French philosopher Roland Barthes’s idea of the punctum: that “element which rises from the [photographic] scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces,” Using this concept as his foundation, Thomas selects a specific area of an image and re-presents it as Sculpture. Through cropping and isolation, he encourages us to contemplate framing itself: what is left in or out of a photographs, narrative, or an account of a historical event, and why?
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.