McArthur Binion (born 1946) Sepia: Martha II, 2017
12019-08-27T10:20:58-07:00Lauren Cesirof37e4e52c3d9a4ff08b7937020ee9048f11c6739346709This image is featured in the exhibition, “not but nothing other: African American Portrayals, 1930s to Today.“ Hover over the highlighted rectangles for more information and links to related content.plain2019-09-27T14:26:37-07:00Color aquatint and hard-ground etching35 ¾ x 41 ¾ in.Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong and SeoulPurchased with funds donated by John Copoulos ’73Binghamton University Art MuseumLauren Cesirof37e4e52c3d9a4ff08b7937020ee9048f11c6739
12019-09-03T19:02:53-07:00McArthur Binion (born 1946) Sepia: Martha II, 20173Label & Mediaplain2019-09-04T12:00:27-07:00 Binion has long resided in the North, but he was born and raised one of what would grow to a family of eleven children on a cotton farm in rural Mississippi—what he has called “the real South … where all the original Black outsiders come from.” The methodical grid of this print reflects that upbringing, composed as it is of a repeated sepia-toned photograph of his mother Martha wearing her garden hat, evoking a powerful childhood memory. He overlays the grid with an ochre circle where we find a second grid that orders an array of simple, hand-drawn marks.
In this work, Binion uses a compositional technique called seriality, the successive arrangement of identical elements in ranks, rows or, as here, grids. Since its first use in advanced art of the 1960s, it has typically been seen as a means of emptying the artwork of the maker’s personality and subjectivity. Binion deploys it, however, precisely to reference his family history. He unites seemingly opposed categories—the abstract and the figurative, the mechanical and the handmade—in an effort to, as he puts it, “find some humanity within abstraction.”