Glenn Ligon to deliver John A. Cooper Visiting Artist Lecture

Glenn Ligon to deliver John A. Cooper Visiting Artist Lecture

Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)

Untitled (America/Me), 2022. Neon and paint, 32.5 x 149 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. © Glenn Ligon. Photo: Thomas Barratt.

February 22, 2024
Glenn Ligon to deliver John A. Cooper Visiting Artist Lecture
March 5, 2024, 5:15pm
Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
129 Sibley Dome
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
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Cornell AAP is pleased to welcome artist Glenn Ligon as the spring 2024 guest speaker for the John A. Cooper Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Ligon will deliver a public artist talk on March 5 in Milstein Auditorium on the university’s Ithaca campus, followed by a reception. View full event details.

In advance of this special event, Ligon had a wide-ranging conversation with Art Professor and Department Chair Paul Ramírez Jonas that covered career building, race, politics, and how emerging artists are approaching the art world. Their discussion also included Ligon’s creative trajectory, with Ramírez Jonas noting both the work’s consistency and inherent skepticism. It was an appraisal Ligon agreed with when it came to himself, but he hesitated on how that might intersect with his work, explaining, “I think that’s a good characterization of myself personally, but it’s hard for me to see that in the work, though I know it must be there because it feels true to who I am and I feel like the work is not so divorced in most cases from who I imagine myself to be.”

Their conversation moved to reflections on building careers, the mainstream gallery world of New York City, and the creation of pieces such as Ligon’s America. 

“We have been in fragile times around our democracy in other moments, and I think this is a particularly fragile time,” Ligon shared. “I think about those America neons I guess the way I think about lots of things—it’s material to be played with. So the idea of America is material to be turned to the wall or painted black or rotated or obscured or whatever because in this country we have this notion that we understand what all these terms mean, and I think in the last couple of years we’ve realized, no, we have very fundamentally different ideas of what America as a democracy means, what ideas are behind that word.”

Despite the myriad social and political tensions dominating current news headlines, both Ramírez Jonas and Ligon found inspiration in the artists coming up behind them, especially those reinvesting what they have earned through their own work back into their communities. It’s a trend that Ligon finds fascinating, “that real sense of commitment to working with specific communities. But that seems like a fairly recent phenomenon, and maybe in part that’s because, as young artists, they are making enough income to support that, which 30 years ago, 40 years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to be ambitious on that scale given the income you were making from your work.”

Ramírez Jonas agreed, noting that “the consolidation of wealth and all of that may be value-neutral until you see some people are using that concentration of wealth for more than just personal gain. There is some kind of hope there.”

AAP looks forward to welcoming Ligon to campus in March. The John A. Cooper Visiting Artist Lecturer series was created with a gift from alumnus John A. Cooper (BFA ‘97) to bring distinguished artists of particular renown to engage art students and the art community through lectures, studio visits, seminars, and individual critiques with BFA students. Previous guests include Catherine Opie (spring 2021) and Louise Lawler (spring 2022).

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February 22, 2024

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