Empowering Black Power Afro Pick Sculpture Is Unveiled In Philadelphia
The 12-foot afro pick sculpture with a black power fist handle is titled All Power to All People.
In a report from The Inquirer, Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled the sculpture Tuesday, which was made by sculptor and multimedia artist Hank Willis Thomas.
“The central guiding principle of Monument Lab is the question, ‘What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia,'” Mural Arts founder Jane Golden said. “That’s the question our curators asked all the artists who submitted proposals last year, and the question they also asked Hank.”
The statue is installed at the Thomas Paine Plaza across from Philadelphia City Hall and is within sight of a statue dedicated to former Philadelphia Mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo. The Rizzo statue has been the center of controversy recently. This summer, discussions were had about removing the statue and last month it was vandalized, with someone spray painting the phrase “Black Power” over the sculpture. Rizzo was a controversial figure in Philadelphia’s black community when he served as police commissioner, with critics charging that he was racially motivated.
However, Thomas said that none of the controversies with Rizzo was in his mind when he created his afro pick sculpture,
“The curators asked me to consider Philadelphia and its history, its people, and its neighborhoods and ask myself how I would commemorate the city in a monument,” Thomas said. “… I remember people walking around with Afro picks with a fist in their hair. I remember realizing this wasn’t a regular comb, it was made specifically to dig deep into wiggly hair, kinky hair, natural hair. To me these were the quotidian objects of North Philly.”
All Power to All People is a part of Mural Arts’ inaugural Monument Lab, The sculpture is one of 20 installations that will be viewable throughout the city until November 19. Mural Arts are also responsible for the new John Coltrane mural that recently popped up in Philadelphia.