Graduating Girl (Version 2) #1 belongs to a series of works by Ligon based on coloring books created in the 1970s by, for, and about Black people. These publications provided opportunities for positive intergenerational self-representation during the civil rights era. They featured drawings of both notable figures, including Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X, and anonymous characters engaged in everyday activities, such as children blowing bubbles. “The coloring books fascinated me because they were so clearly linked with the project of black liberation,” Ligon explained. “Any depiction of a black person . . . was a little revolution because it meant that our histories, stories, images and heroes mattered.”
Ligon asked children between the ages of three and nine to color images from the historic coloring books, then created paintings inspired by their drawings. In his practice, Ligon often transforms images and words through repetition and reproduction. Here, the image has been filtered through the passage of more than two decades, the children’s coloring choices, and Ligon’s interpretation of their images.
Gallery label from Studio Visit: Selected Gifts from Agnes Gund, 2018