A bronze warrior sits in front of the Milwaukee Club’s Wisconsin Avenue entrance. Just over six feet tall, with spindly limbs and a surprisingly peaceful expression etched across his gleaming, metallic face, the fearsome fighter is one of 21 works of art installed along Wisconsin Avenue for the second incarnation of Sculpture Milwaukee (on view through Oct. 21).
The sculpture, BAM (Seated Warrior), was created by Los Angeles-born, New York City-based artist Sanford Biggers in 2017.
According to a description on the Sculpture Milwaukee website “This powerful piece is part of a series where the artist marks and mutilates wooden African ‘power’ figures, created for the tourist trade, then casts them in bronze, to both hide and exaggerate the violence done to the original.” To casual passersby, the works in the series are eye-catching figurative sculptures; to those who take the time to study them more deeply, they’re a meditation on colonialism and cultural appropriation.
Biggers made a big splash in the international art scene in 2009, when he was listed as one of three finalists for the Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts – the world’s largest juried prize to a single artist. Since then, he’s joined the faculty of Columbia University’s Visual Arts program (as an assistant professor), been profiled in The New Yorker and has become a high-profile proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Suffice it to say, he’s one of the most interesting up-and-coming artists working today, and his art deserves a closer look.
Sculpture Milwaukee aims to provide just that, in the form of a community-wide discussion centered on the artwork, on Aug. 15. That evening, former Pfister Narrator and regular MilMag contributor Dasha Kelly will speak – in the Pfister Hotel’s Rouge Ballroom – about perspective and projection as it relates to the sculpture. MilMag is thrilled to be a 2018 Sculpture Milwaukee sponsor, and our editor-in-chief, Carole Nicksin, will be introducing Kelly.
The event, which is part of a larger monthly lecture series, will be followed by an optional stroll of the Sculpture Milwaukee installation. A cash bar will be available on site, for a 5:30 p.m. happy hour, and the discussion will begin at 6 p.m.