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A self-taught artist, Woolery began drawing and painting figures he admired. He then started covering them in colored thumbtacks, producing a mosaic of sorts that jumps off the canvas. While the images are bold and beautiful, they carry the history of pain and labor of the black community throughout many years of struggle. “History has pounded negativity and stereotypes onto the race,” Woolery says, “and out of that rubble I want powerful images to emerge that place the black experience in a vibrant, triumphant, and beautiful manner.”

The exhibition’s real head turner is a piece called “It’s All About The Benjamins.” A 9-foot long artwork constructed of three canvases stitched together, “Benjamins” depicts a 100 dollar bill with the face of Benjamin Franklin replaced with that of his much overlooked black contemporary, Benjamin Banneker. A mathematician, astronomer, farmer, and author of many almanacs, Banneker was an early 18th and 19th century symbol of education, peace, and equality. One of the piece’s three canvases actually includes a President Obama painting Woolery scratched from the show, adding yet another layer of history to the thumbtacked piece.

With nearly 23,000 thumbtacks per piece, Woolery quickly learned how to protect and preserve his magic fingers. He became an expert on thimbles and eventually iced his thumbs and elbows every night in order to keep producing — talk about being dedicated to your art! The result is one of the most lively and dynamic history lessons taught through the beauty of art.

+ Andre Woolery

via DNA info

images via Art by Andre Woolery Facebook