9. Tell me about this piece of the teenage boy?
This is a piece called Target. I would like to talk
about it because for many, many years I was horrified at the amount violence
that was taking place in the inner city where I live. I live in Dorchester.
And it seemed, well it didn't just seem as if, it was true
that young black males were killing one another at an alarming rate, almost daily murders. Back in 1990, 91, 92 I would say things were probably at the worst state. And this, having two sons, had me in a terrible state of apprehension and anxiety about their every move. Where are they? I'd scan The Globe every day to find out who was killed today and on what street. How often am I on that street? How often are my kids on that street? Don't go on that street! As if the street was the cause of the violence or as if they would be safe if only they didn't go on that particular street. But every day there's a new street and then it was around the corner from me. I'm hearing gunshots at midnight and of course read the paper the next day and find out who was killed around the corner from me. But I couldn't do this sculpture. I just couldn't. Something about it was too painful and I kept thinking I've got to do this piece. I wanted it to be a memorial to the boys, not only the boys who have been
shot and killed but to the boys who shot them and destroyed their lives, because either way it's death. The boys who are doing, the shooters, are committing suicide and those who are shot are dead. So either way it's just overwhelmingly tragic. Probably for that reason, I could not address it as long as I was in the midst of it.
I had the good fortune to go to Thailand last summer and I was sent by my school.
I was able to get a Horizon grant which is a travel grant for faculty members
and I went to Thailand to visit a foundry that I thought might be able to cast
one of my sculptures, a large piece, more economically than here. Well while
I was there, I started doing this sculpture and it just came. I didn't really
intend to do this, I just started playing around with some clay in the foundry
and this sculpture started coming and I realized it was the sculpture. It was
my memorial to the boys. So it developed and I call it Target because the black
male population, especially the young population, is targeted. They're targets all the time whether it's from police or from each other. They're targets, they're walking targets. And it has a very rough impression of a woman's form that he's leaning against. And this is the mother image with kind of arms outstretched but not there, but the upraised feeling of them. All of the mothers crying, it all brings back Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. "Mother, Mother there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother there's far too many of you dying." So it's that and there are wings, kind of angel wings from behind the arms. I love this piece. It's very important to me and ideally I would love to see it enlarged and put as a monument to these boys because I don't think any city has memorialized these kids, partly because they don't consider them to be heroes, they're villains, but these are great tragedies both for the kids who were doing something bad and killed as a result and for the many, many innocent kids who had nothing at all to do with the violence and just were in the wrong place at the wrong time and caught the bullet.