For our final session with Michelle Rawlings, students were instructed to send her the names of cultural icons they associated with. Names included Stephen Colbert, James Dean, and Judge Judy. Students were provided with preselected and appropriated images of these figures and asked to depict them with chalk pastels. The looseness of the medium and the detached relationship toward the provided images addressed the way Kehinde Wiley “found” the mugshot in his painting Mugshot Study, 2006, on view in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, and to how Wiley’s models, people chosen off the street near his Harlem studio, might have reacted to images in the art history books from which they were asked to choose a composition for their own portraits.
Kehinde Wiley, Mugshot Study, 2006. Oil on canvas. 36 x 24 inches. The Sender Collection, New York. © Kehinde Wiley
By Isabell Spence