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Poferd

© Tony Lewis

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Tony Lewis

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Tony Lewis

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Tony Lewis

American, born 1986

Poferd, 2015

four sheets: pencil and graphite powder on paper

each (sheet): 42 x 30 inches (106.68 x 76.2 cm); overall: 84 x 60 inches (213.36 x 152.4 cm); framed: 90 x 66 inches (228.6 x 167.64 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Anonymous Gift, 2016

2016:11a-d

More Details

Provenance

the artist;
private collection;
donated to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, May 10, 2016

Class

Drawings

Work Type

Drawing (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

In Tony Lewis’s drawings, bits of language are arranged in the tradition of concrete poetry, which treats letters and words as visual forms instead of units of communication. For example, Lewis routinely jumbles letters, erases parts of phrases, and multiplies words on top of each other—all of which encourages us to appreciate language as a kind of visual art. Still, in some cases, as in Poferd, it is possible to pick out words that resonate with linguistic meaning. Far from incidental, the words “people of color”—recombined here with other letters to make new nonsensical words, such as “poferd”—evoke the history of race relations in America, particularly Jim Crow–era signs announcing that “colored people” were not welcome. By both drawing our attention to and transforming these words, Lewis underscores the power of language to shape our identities and questions how the meaning of these particular words has changed.

Label from We the People: New Art from the Collection, October 23, 2018–July 21, 2019

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