King of Africa in America

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1990
Corrugated tin, woven rope, metal, carpet, nails, Bondo, paint, on wood
48 x 49 inches

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In King of Africa in America a man’s face modeled on a lion’s body stares out from a tangle of tree trunks crowned with fame-like branches.

In King of Africa in America a man’s face modeled on a lion’s body stares out from a tangle of tree trunks crowned with fame-like branches. In one reading, the proverbial king of the jungle gazes warily from the woodland sanctuary that harbors and constrains its actions. In a second interpretation, the woods enmesh the lion in a thicket of limited opportunity where economic and social progress is hedged in and the lion never breaks free. A third reading presents the lion as an allegorical figure representing the limited opportunities for African American men in the South—and beyond. Thus, the woods serve variously as a place of concealment, banishment, and sanctuary but, no mater how the woods are viewed, the lion is forever limited in its movements.