Commemorating Every Black Man Who Lives to See Twenty-One

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
Glazed porcelain, enamel, gilding
Work : 3/4 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 in. (1.91 x 27.31 x 27.31 cm)
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Hope College Collection
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Carrie Mae Weems is an African American, multi-media artist whose work often deals with race, gender and social justice issues. This plate comes from a series Weems created in 1992 to commemorate aspects of Black life that are often ignored or marginalized by the white majority culture. The gut-wrenching inscription on the plate was originally a lament for the large numbers of young Black men who were killed by drugs, gangs and police violence in the 1980s and early 90s, but it has taken on new relevance today in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. There is irony in the fact that Weems created this artwork using Lenox bone china since Lenox is one of America’s oldest and most prestigious ceramic manufacturers, best known for providing dinner services to the White House and other elite clients.   

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