Afro Pick Sculpture to Tour American Cities Ahead of Presidential Election

A sculpture by the American artist Hank Willis Thomas will travel across the country ahead of November's potentially divisive presidential election,

Afro Pick in Atlanta

Image via Guardian/Marc Turnley

Afro Pick in Atlanta

Prior to this November's election, a massive afro pick sculpture will comb its way through the country as a symbol of strength and unity. 

New York artist Hank Willis Thomas sculpted a 28-foot tall, 7,000 pound afro pick that he calls "All Power to All People." The piece is part of his Kindred Arts project and is a work of art that Thomas describes as a "celebration."

"To me, the work is a celebration and a provocation," Thomas said to the Guardian. "It’s a symbol of community, strength, justice, and belonging that aims to inspire action and demand social change."

It's currently in Atlanta where it will be on display until Aug. 11, before moving to Washington, DC and other major cities. In DC, the installation will coincide with Rev. Al Sharpton's Get Your Knee Off Our Necks: Commitment March on Washington. 

Since the Black Lives Matter protests swept across the world, people around the country have decided to dismantle symbols of oppression by tearing down statues that commemorate the Confederacy. Thomas took this as an opportunity to show what the future of public art could look like.

"Public monuments have a higher charge now," he explained. "With all the things that have been happening with monuments across the country, this felt more important than ever." 

The afro pick has been a symbol of Black heritage since it was first created in 1969. Like the afro itself, the pick is worn and used to show one's pride in themselves. 

"It is a uniting motif, worn as adornment, a political emblem and signature of collective identity," Thomas continued, before stating that the highlighting of this imagery is needed due to the current state of the country. 

"In light of ongoing, anti-black police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionately affects black individuals, it’s an urgent public art piece serving as a symbol of unity, pride, strength, perseverance, justice, and belonging," he said. "Even with the Black Panthers, what they wanted was peace, but there was a war on the community, so it was called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. I wanted to highlight this idea of the Black Power movement as always being a peace movement."

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