A powerful image of a Black man has been immortalized as a monument—in New York City’s Times Square, of all places!
Acclaimed artist Kehinde Wiley unveiled his biggest work to date last Friday, a massive bronze statue of a young Black man in urban regalia sitting astride a galloping horse like the king warrior he was meant to be.
Called “Rumors of War,” the towering bronze monument—standing at 27 feet high and 16 feet wide—is the antithesis to the racist structures of Confederate generals and slave owners that the public has been forced to look at for years.
Wiley gained international renown in 2017 when he was commissioned to paint a portrait for Forever President Barack Hussein Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
The Nigerian-American Los Angeles native was already revered for his reimagined, highly naturalistic artworks of young Black people—notably of young Black men from disenfranchised communities,
Wiley, 42, described his latest work as a call to arms for inclusivity, telling the Associated Press after the unveiling he hoped young people would see it and “see a sense of radical possibility—this, too, is America.”
Seeing the monument of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s monument in Richmond, Va., alongside the city’s string of Confederate memorials along Monument Avenue was Wiley’s inspiration for “Rumors of War.”
“I’m a Black man walking those streets. I’m looking up at those things that give me a sense of dread and fear. We want more. We demand more,” the former Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem said. “Today we say ‘yes’ to something that looks like us.”