The Greatest (Muhammad Ali), 2015
acrylic paint and paper on paper
acrylic paint and paper on stretched canvas
Muhammad Ali is the greatest of all time! The Champ and I both come from Louisville, Ky. He is the most famous person from the area. I have always known of Ali's celebrity, but it wasn't until after he passed that I was made aware of some of the truly great things he accomplished. Seeing the entire city of Louisville come together for a giant celebration of Ali's life was a great display of his influence.
I made this piece in 2015, when Ali was still with us. I was responding to the police killing of Michael Brown, the unrest in Ferguson, MO, and the beginnings of the Black Lives Matter Movement #BLM. The image depicts Ali with his hand up, not in a victorious way, but like he has a gun held to him by police. As if he could be saying "Hands up, Don't shoot", a mantra for many activists. I wanted to explore the juxtaposition of racial profiling/injustice and super-celebrity.