Although Mark Bradford creates abstract works, he is always informed by the social and political environment. The title of this work is inspired by Nina Simone’s 1964 song “Mississippi Goddam,” a plaintive cry for urgent social change and racial equality. In this work, the title also references the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005. Using debris he collected from New Orleans’s streets, Bradford created an abstract image that also serves as a critique of the slowness of recovery efforts in low-income communities after Katrina. He then laid a sheet of silver leaf over the initial layer of found paper and used a sander to recover portions of the submerged colors and text. The resulting image appears at once like a dilapidated wall and a seascape, with the undulating cuts recalling oncoming waves and the colorful paper fragments evoking flotsam and jetsam after the deluge.
Label from Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford, May 26–October 2, 2016