James Baldwin
And the Myth of Monument

I started this still very unfinished project with the hope of having an inked version for the 3rd. Or 4th. I was particularly inspired after watching the Washington Post Ken Burns short about monuments. In them, asked about liberty, Mr Baldwin cannot help characterizing the eponymous French statue, and the associated holiday, as anything other than ‘a bitter joke.’ —His words very much struck me as an updated version of the brilliant Frederick Douglass speech, which I also attempted to memorialize some years ago.

It wasn't very good. I can't say that this portrait is much better[1] , but at least I finished the pencil.

graphite on paper: from a photograph of James Baldwin. I started this drawing either on the 2nd or 3rd of July. Photographed 06jul20

I've been doing these Mucha-esque things with flowers, and for lack of a better choice—I'm certainly aware that Mr Baldwin was a brilliant thinker and writer, definitely on a par with the much more famous Rev Martin Luther King jr, but I have no idea whether he had a particular favourite flower or colour, or indeed whether even such a thing occupied his mind—went with cotton flowers, which, it turns out, are quite beautiful but, being a southern plant also utterly unfamiliar to me.

So I didn't get very far.

[1]At least I didn't turn him into a kittycat!