Afro Pick makes statement in Opa-Locka
OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – A new iconic public artwork entitled “All Power to All People” was unveiled by award-winning, internationally acclaimed artist, Hank Willis Thomas, in partnership with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC). At over 800 pounds, the 8-foot-tall afro pick is cast in aluminum and finished with a high gloss black coating.
It boasts stainless steel teeth topped with a clenched fist often associated with strength, unity and black power.
The installation of the work, which uses imagery associated with counterculture and civil rights, comes at a time of social, economic and racial divide across the nation. While Thomas hopes the piece will speak for itself, it highlights ideas of community, strength, perseverance, comradeship and resistance to oppression.
The artwork is located at the north lawn of Town Center Apartments, an affordable housing development for the elderly built in 2014 as a collaboration between OLCDC and Related Urban Development Group. It joins another public artwork, “Opa-Tisha Locka-Wocka,” by South Florida artist Gary Moore designed for Town Center.
The unveiling ceremony featured a talk with Thomas and OLCDC President Dr. Willie Logan and moderated by Dennis Scholl, president and CEO of ArtCenter of South Florida. The reception brought together the Opalocka community, as well as Miami’s art community. Its host committee included some of the who’s who in the Miami art world, including Scholl, Franklin Sirmans of the Perez Art Museum Miami, Marilyn Holifield, thought leader behind the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora, and Cathy Leff, former director of the Wolfsonian Museum.
When asked about the significance of Miami for his “All Power to All People” installation, Thomas said many of his greatest career moments happened in South Florida.
“Many of the most significant moments in my career happened in Miami. So, it’s fitting. In addition, the City of Opa-locka has a rich history, and I am very glad to be a part of it. The small monument speaks to the history of black Americans. It is a symbolic gesture but a potent one, as the imagery has long been connected to beauty, cultural representation and selflove.”
Thomas said he did not always want to be an artist.
“I definitely did not want to do it because I had a false idea of what that really meant. I thought I knew what it meant to be an artist. Then I realized art was more than what you make, it’s more about who you are and how you behave. You don’t have be called an artist to be an artist.”
The OLCDC aims to redevelop Opalocka into a desired destination to live, work, create and play. Promoting art and culture are key components to that transformation.
The organization’s facilitation of Thomas’ art installation reflects its commitment to providing unique, quality artistic and cultural opportunities for the residents of Opa-locka.
For more information about OLCDC and Hank Willis Thomas, visit www.olcdc.org and www.hankwillisthomas.com.
Artist Hank Willis Thomas stands next to his Afro Pick Art installation in Opa-Locka.