Last Friday (Jan. 13), a massive statue honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King’s legacy was unveiled in Boston. Named “The Embrace,” it was designed by Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas and only features the couple’s arms hugging and not their heads or the rest of their bodies. The design concept was modeled after a famous photograph taken of the pair after Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
Since its reveal, the sculpture garnered backlash because certain angles of the figure were interpreted differently by many people, including Seneca Scott, Coretta’s cousin, who described it as a “masturbatory metal homage” in an essay published by Compact Magazine.
Today (Jan. 18), Thomas stopped by “CNN This Morning” to respond to the mixed reactions and double down on his work.
“So, you’re happy with it? There are no plans to modify or change it?” host Don Lemon asked Thomas. “No,” the artist said assertively.
“Would you do that if they asked?” Lemon followed up.
“I mean, by who?” Thomas responded. He then delved into the process behind the creation of “The Embrace.” “This was a piece that was selected by the people of Boston. This is not a, ‘Hank just came and put something.’ Thousands of people worked on this. Thousands of people actually put it together. No one saw, I would say, this perverse perspective.”
“I mean, to bring that to the King’s legacy, to dictate the making of art and celebration of them, is really strange for me,” he concluded.
Yesterday (Jan. 17), Seneca, also went on CNN to share more of his thoughts about the whole matter. “If you can look at it from all angles, and it’s probably two people hugging each other — it’s four hands. It’s not the missing heads that’s the atrocity… other people clamp onto that… it’s a stump that looked like a penis. That’s a joke,” he said.