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Art can create unique moments for reflection and critical thinking about complex subjects. In 2020 the Museum acquired this powerful work by Percy King entitled Strange Fruit. Artists, like King, challenge our assumptions, and ask us to question norms and grapple with the experiences of our time. Today on the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, we wanted to share this work and the artist’s thoughts with you.
“Strange Fruit is a commentary on how African American children engage with these turbulent times through various media platforms.
Here, a 12-year-old looks at us, the viewers, seeking answers after seeing the modern-day lynching death of George Floyd on her phone. Many of America’s youth witnessed Floyd’s graphic death on social media in real-time, mostly without their parents’ guidance or control. How can adults help children digest the emotional realities of social justice, political unrest, and police brutality—all through the additional, grim lens of a global pandemic?
The background for the piece is encoded with magnolia flowers and blood-stained leaves referencing lyrics to the song ‘Strange Fruit’ performed in 1939 by Billie Holiday. The song compares lynching victims to the fruit of trees in the Deep South."
Percy C. King
American, born 1977
Birch plywood, Masonite, compressed particle board, and pigment
Museum Purchase, Derby Fund