Art @ Home: Malcolm X #14

Make a New Friend: Malcolm X #14

When you make friends with a work of art at the museum, you begin a friendship that will grow and grow, just like when you make friends with a person. And, you’ll discover that whenever you spend time with your friend, you’ll learn new things about what you see and how you feel about it.

Right now, the Museum is closed, but we can still make friends with works of art there. We’re going to use a picture to get to know Malcolm X #14 by Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Barbara Chase-Riboud, Malcolm X #14, 2017. Bronze with black patina, silk, wool, polished cotton and synthetic fibers with steel support, 89 1/2 x 45 1/4 x 24 in. (227 x 115 x 61 cm). The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2018.013.

A couple of things to know about this work of art and the artist:

  • Barbara Chase-Riboud was born in 1939 in Philadelphia. In the late 1960s, she moved to Paris, and now lives in Paris and Rome. In addition to being a visual artist, she is a writer and a poet.
  • Malcolm X #14 is part of a series of 20 sculptures, made between 1969 and 2017. The series is dedicated to Malcolm X, a civil rights leader who was killed in 1965.
  • This sculpture is 7 feet tall, about 3 ½ feet wide, and 2 feet deep. The upper half is polished cast bronze with a black patina on it. The lower half is made from knotted, braided and looped fibers made of silk and wool.

Artistic Inspirations

It’s great to get to know a work of art by sketching it. It helps you notice all the details, as you slow down to draw what you see. All you need is paper and a pencil to sketch what you see.

You also could create your own work of art, inspired by Barbara Chase-Riboud’s sculpture. At the art Museum, we like to create art inspired by works of art in our galleries. We often do this by using similar materials or similar ideas as the artist.

In this piece, the artist has put together opposites–hard and soft, heavy and light, sharp edges and round coils. She also once said of her work, “Nothing is permanent; nothing is a definite form; everything is in flux and everything moves in its own way.”

Inspired by what we saw and Barbara Chase Riboud’s words, we knew we wanted to make something that moved, and we wanted to combine hard and soft. Like most of you, we are at home so we don’t have quite as many materials available as we would have in the Museum’s studio space.

We found a dowel rod (you could use a stick too, or even a chopstick or wooden spoon). We pulled together scraps of fabric, ribbon and yarn and hung them in strips and with tied knots, creating something that was soft and also moved. We added some little things to it: a few beads, and some paper beads that were made by rolling up long strips of paper and gluing them. For the hard, we found some small rocks that were collected on a trip last summer to Camden, Maine. We tied them with yarn, and added them to the wall sculpture. We like how they’re sort of hidden; you have to look carefully to see them.

Have fun being creative—we can’t wait to see how this work inspires you! Have a parent tag @ColbyMuseum on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #ArtAtHome, and we might share your creation with our followers.

Inspiration by Kristin Bergquist, Mirken Curator of Education and Engagement