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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michelle Obama Sculpture Pepertuates Stereotypes of African and Black Women.

Artist Daniel Edwards' sculptures above are scheduled to be exhibited at New York’s Leo Kesting Gallery in October.The artist describes his work as "an accessorized mannequin bust of Obama that foregoes the conventional pearl necklace, and provides for her a “signature look” to take to Washington.The goal is to create a look for Michelle Obama that eliminates excessive comparisons to Jackie Kennedy.”Really?

My thoughts

Is Edwards creating similar sculptures for Cindy McCain, Laura Bush etc.? Further, arguably, his work is art and subject to diverse interpretations/point of view. However, a different point of view does not negate calling stereotypes out when we see one. In a very tough political climate where a qualified black man could potentially be the next president of the United States of America, this art, in my view, feeds on fears and stereoptypes of the millions of Americans already apprehensive about a black man leading the nation.How?

First, the person the artist calls Michelle Obama is seen with an African/Nefertiti hair style. [A beautiful thing in Africa but in this part of the world, a cause for alarm, especially among whites, for a potential First Lady].

Second, Michelle is seen wearing large hoop earrings. Wow! Next, she has an afro pick in her hair. How much more unrefined does the potential first lady seem? It gets better. The artist has our potential First Lady with a branded American flag on her chest, black skin and saggy/droopy breasts-much like that depicted for aeons on the discovery channel of African tribal viallage women, of which supposively represents every African woman.

The above factors lead me to the following conclusion: depicting an image that purports to be Michelle Obama with the aformentioned characteristics feeds on stereotypes of Africans and Black women. It says to the racist man/woman already apprehensive about electing a qualified Black man to office,"Look, at the end of the day, when Michelle Obama is done wearing her designer dresses and being lauded a fashionista with a law degree etc., if you strip her to her true nakedness, she is one of the black Africans you hear and see on your discovery channel. America, Obama is married to this black African woman. Is this who you really want in office?"

I can't help but read it that way, especially by virtue of a title that says, "Michelle Obama's Makeover for America" and the artist stating its a "signature look for her to take to Washington."



Anonymous said...

Uduak, after reading more about the artist at

I am inclined to agree with you. I believe that he is doing this NOT in an attempt to honor Michelle Obama but rather to create controversy and attention as he has done with all his other pieces.

His targets have tended to be celebrities and he seems to have no boundaries (Suri Cruise's bowel movement? Really? That's art?) so of course, it is not surprising that he is pushing the limits with this new sculpture. My only hope is that it is handled well by everyone concerned. We cannot - and should not - censor this so-called "art", and hopefully, Obama supporters will not create such a fuss that it becomes news. The best thing we can do for Michelle and Obama is to pay it no mind...because if we make a big deal of it, it will, sure as the sun rises, be plastered all over the media - which is precisely what we don't want. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the best offense, in this case, is to let it be. Hopefully, like all bad art, it will just fade away and be quickly forgotten as the insignificant rubbish that it is.

Anonymous said...

Your reactions are absolutely right. I am astounded by the American flag imprinted in her skin. How ironic. What does this man know of a black woman? Why does he get to reinvent Michelle Obama? Shouldn't that be a task for, I don't know... Michelle Obama herself?

Jennifer said...

To quote The Green Mile: "What in the blue f**k was THAT!?"

joicee said...

WOW...This is quite interesting...
First of all the sculpture looks nothing like Michelle Obama. That said..I think the sculptor is definitely trying to make a name for himself being controversial but it will not work...

If I remember clearly a similar thing was done to Oprah Winferey a while back...Why wont these fools leave black Women alone?

!!Estella!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
!!Estella!! said...

Honestly, only curse words are on the tip of my tongue for this artist. But its NOT in our African nature to do so. being African, being an African woman teaches us to hold our heads high. No matter the provocation.

Being black has made us a subject of all type of taunting and caricature like 'the artist' just did.

But, we still fight hard, we still persevere. You trod on, we march on and we make it! Amidst all the obstacles.

Our black brothers and sisters who were snatched away from African shores in the past in the name of Slave Trade helped build America! Black people are STRONG! In EVERYWAY!

Sometimes I wonder, what would America have been like if only the white immigrants toiled the farms and land....I am sure it wouldn’t have become this big!

So, for once, in the history of mankind, a BLACK MAN, no, I erase that, not just a black man, an AFRICAN MAN is one step away from becoming the President of the greatest country on earth! Ouch!!

I sometimes wonder what the rednecks talk about these days. If only I could become invisible for one minute, I would like to go to those very racist neighborhood and hear what they say. I am sure though, that my ear drums may burst! Phew!

What happened to all the 'people' that said and planned and tried to exterminate the black race? The white wearing, hooded clowns? How they must be wincing with pain! Ouch again!

So, the bust of Michelle looking like a very sick African woman that we see on Discovery Channel and 'Save-A-African-Village-by-donating-$1-a-day’ adverts on TV is just another way by detractors and mean people to upset the whole country and sway the votes in November..

I pray and hope the Obama Team ignore this 'artist'! Silence, they say is the answer to a fool...
Even though he tried so hard to make Michelle Obama look very bad, casting her NOT in the way she is in reality, the funny looking hairstyle (that no one wears these days), the funny comb in her hair that is NOT seen on the streets, and the drooping boobs!

Well, shame on you 'artist', even though you tried to mess our First lady up, your sculpture of an African woman is still beautiful, because Black is Beautiful! And that is the way I choose to see your sculpture from now on.

A beautiful African woman, NOT Michelle Obama! High cheekbones, proud and strong!

And the map of Africa would have looked better than the American flag you put on her chest! Africans love Africa and are proud of Africa! Get with the program! Africa may be termed 'dark' and poor, but you get all your diamonds and gold from her! Duh!

Anonymous said...

Daniel Edwards has made a career producing purposely shocking and sexually grotesque models of women, including Paris Hilton on an autopsy table and Britney Spears in a contorted position giving birth. His 'sculptures' have a tortured woman dipped in wax feel about them. When I see them, my gut reaction is that I'd never want to be in this guys, I mean studio, ahem. When I see them I think 'Daniel Edwards doesn't like women very much'. Apparently he doesn't like black people very much either.

Not all art is enlightening. Some of it is reactionary. Some of it is great, some is good, and some is downright anything else humans create.

Edwards uses famous women who've already been sexualized, caricatured and reviled by the public, to express his 'viewpoint' about females. Not exactly a feat of daring or greatness in a male supremacist, racist, woman hating world.

He simply shows us his own little corner of it.

Anonymous said...

Let me edit the above to add "selectively reviled". All the famous women Edwards depicts have been both put on a pedestal and torn down while being stereotyped, as many famous women are. They are simply easy targets. None of them actually asked or sat for one of his 'portraits'. He only USES them and the publicly sketched persona's of them to express his barely disguised views on women.

Anonymous said...

He made one of Hillary too, unflattering with bare breasts tattooed with flowers (his idea of breasts seem to be one size fits all). He stated that he wanted to 'remind' people that Hillary 'is a woman'. As if people forgot she is a woman, to the contrary, the male dominated media could never stop attacking her for it. Edwards is a disingenuous liar about his motives and opinion of women, which by all appearances is that we are sex objects to be used, humiliated and defiled.

I know this article was written weeks ago, but it is in the top ten on Google for 'Michelle Obama sculpture', and they just now unveiled it in NY.

There aren't many blogs or media seriously discussing it, which incenses me. It is a huge issue and I thank the author for bringing it into the light of day.

The 'bust'(ahem) is appallingly racist, but Edwards main issue is with women. He is a misogynist who gave Michelle Obama the sexist, racist double whammy, as is so often done to black women. Women need to call him on it, loudly, as he continues to churn these pieces of hateful propaganda out.

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