On Friday, a new memorial sculpture honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King was erected in Boston. The 22-foot statue has received a wide variety of reactions from ecstatic praise to bewilderment and even boos.
The sculpture titled The Embrace was created by Hank Willis Thomas to commemorate the bond shared between the two monarchs. In particular, a photograph of the pair sharing a bear hug after King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 served as the inspiration for this piece.
In 2018, when Willis Thomas had a piece named as a finalist, he stressed the spiritual and emotional security one could feel from a warm embrace. A total of 600 individual bronze pieces were welded together to form the final product, which weighs in at an impressive 19 tonnes.
What Are the Fans’ Reactions to Mlk Statue?
On Friday when it was first shown to the public, opinions were divided. Karen Attiah, a journalist for the Washington Post expressed her displeasure with the monument in a lengthy thread on Twitter reducing the Kings to body pieces.
Public art and the decisions around it are political.
In a country that has VERY FEW public monuments and statues of Black people, the "Embrace" Martin Luther King statue in Boston sends a message.
A lot of the wrong ones. (1/n)
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 16, 2023
The Embrace statue in Boston is an excellent symbol of White America’s fetid relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. But they gloss over his radicalism, anti-capitalism and strong criticisms of white moderates. A complete MLK is still too much for them.
The Boston-based activist and writer Chip Goines tweeted, I can’t avoid the notion that this view of The Embrace sculpture from this perspective looks like two disembodied arms & hands clutching a butt….why do the MLK monuments have to be so bad?
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