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Robert Pruitt

DEPICTING Ta-Nehisi Coates

“I responded to writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2014 essay, “The Case for Reparations,” published in Atlantic Monthly. Coates draws a line from the practice of redlining to the present-day economic status of African Americans.

In Monumental (2018), the lone woman’s dress recalls American Antebellum fashion. Her head cover, a large colorful property map, references redlining maps used in 20th-century discriminatory housing practices. I have attempted to emulate Coates’ spirit of clarity through my approach and references to ideas of home, property and architecture.”  — Robert Pruitt

A portrait of a woman in a red shirt and patterned apron, her head hidden by a folded map.
Monumental [Ta-Nehisi Coates], 2018. Robert Pruitt. Courtesy of the artist and Koplin Del Rio, Seattle.


Robert Pruitt

(b. 1975) Drawing imagery from science fiction, comic books, Hip-Hop culture, and images taken from the history of political and social struggle in the United States, Robert Pruitt creates drawings, paintings, and sculptures that explore complexities at the center of contemporary black identity. Pruitt often paints portraits of his friends and family dressed in period costume with props. He establishes a mix of black historical figures, romantic visions of pre-colonial Africa, and fantasy.

A black & white portrait of an African American man with closely cropped hair and beard.

[Ta-Nehisi Coates], date unknown. Gabriella Demczuk. Photo: © Gabriella Demczuk.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

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