Afro Pick makes state­ment in Opa-Locka

South Florida Times - - METRO - Staff Re­port

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WORLD RED EYE

Artist Hank Wil­lis Thomas stands next to his Afro Pick Art in­stal­la­tion in Opa-Locka.

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