I wanted to love the new Boston MLK statue. But it’s just awkward.

Wednesday - 18/01/2023 13:44 Author: Editors Desk Source: The Washington Post

Hank Willis Thomas’s tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King has polarized opinion everywhere

(Steven Senne/AP)
(Steven Senne/AP)

BOSTON — Melting snow was cascading in curtains off smooth, curving bronze on Boston Common on Tuesday morning. A crowd of 30 or 40 people tried to avoid getting wet as they surrounded or posed for selfies under “The Embrace,” the recently unveiled sculpture commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

“The Embrace” is the work of Hank Willis Thomas, who based his sculpture on a photograph of the couple hugging after King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Thomas, 46, is the son of Deborah Willis, herself an artist and one of this country’s most esteemed photography historians and curators. He has been thinking about public monuments, race and history for many years. In much of his work, he has proved adept at using simple, symbolic language, often borrowed from sports or advertising, to punchy, powerful effect. But his latest sculpture — all arms and elbows — has provoked massive public reaction, some of it critical.

I wanted to love “The Embrace.” But sadly, some of its critics are onto something. Although the work succeeds as a moving commemoration and as a tribute to love, it fails artistically.

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 Keywords: Martin Luther King

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