new-york

Leonardo Drew

Thread Waxing Space

Many contemporary artists who attempt to articulate African-American experience rely on photo-based techniques (Lorna Simpson’s studies of racist/sexist stereotypes and Carrie Mae Weems’ intimate narratives take the form of cool, almost clinical images, while Pat Ward Williams and Danny Tisdale frequently re-present racial hate-crimes using found photographs of events long past). By contrast, Leonardo Drew’s recent sculptures evoke African-American history using the actual materials of plantation agriculture: unprocessed cotton and cotton fabric, rusted metal, and rotting wood.

Drew’s abstract forms refer to the harvesting of cotton but also to the darker aspects of Southern (in)justice—ghostlike sacks suspended from hooks might be Ku Klux Klan shrouds or the black bodies hanging from tree branches in Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit,” 1939. And while Drew restricts himself to rigid

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