Daily Art Moment: Robert Pruitt

Meteorite, Robert Pruitt, conte and charcoal on dyed paper, rendered walkie-talkie with audio component. A vertical, rectangular portrait of a seated Black woman in profile wearing a long, burnt orange colored dress with a walkie-talkie in her lap, against a reddish background. The woman sits on the edge of a folding chair and is turned slightly to the left with her hands resting on her knees. Her head is turned to the left and her hair is swept up into a bun on top. Her expression is neutral. Her face and hair are rendered in careful detail in tones of gray and black with the reddish background showing through in areas. Soft white highlights touch her cheekbone, temple and lips. She wears a long sleeve, high necked dress with a U-shaped ruffle on the upper bodice. The dress is characterized by simple lines with less detail than the head of the woman. Her hands reflect the wash of reddish pigment that also unevenly fills the background of the portrait. In her lap sits a walkie-talkie, a black and silver rectangular device with a long antenna that extends out from the woman’s lap beyond the edge of the work. The folding chair seen partially right is sheer gray with the reddish background again showing through.

“I look forward to sharing Robert Pruitt’s drawing ‘Meteorite’ with our audiences this fall in an installation of contemporary artworks that are new to the collection. This multimedia piece pairs a large-scale drawing with an old-fashioned walkie-talkie sitting on a pedestal. Pruitt brings the drawing’s fictional world into our real-time and space: the actual radio plays back the woman’s voice, animating her interior world. Her words mix traditional gospel lyrics with phrases from James Baldwin and Ray Bradbury’s writings, Nikki Giovanni’s poetry, and the music of Sun Ra. Pruitt looks to Afrofuturism and fictional worlds created by Black artists to illuminate histories, myths, and present-day narratives.

He describes the recent body of work that includes this piece: ‘The idea of a nascent majestic inheritance is at the root of this series of drawings. They are attempts to reposition systems of belief and mythos around a Black American identity. Meteorite seeks to suggest a concept of a mythology of Black celestial sovereignty.

Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Robert Pruitt (American, born 1975). Meteorite, 2019. Conté and charcoal on dyed paper, rendered walkie-talkie with audio component. Museum Purchase with funds provided by Amjad and Helen Bangash, 2019.47.1a-e

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