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10John Ahearn, South Bronx Bronzes

via janettebeckman.com

Misappropriation isn't a topic only found in hip hop and black culture, and neither is it a recent phenomenon. In the 1980s, Ahearn, a white sculptor, lived and worked in Brooklyn's South Bronx. As a sculptor, he looked to his immediate environment for inspiration. Living in a predominantly black

neighborhood, he created life sized sculptures of everyday people.

Always giving a copy of the piece to the model, he soon garnered a large following. His popularity led to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs commissioning him to create sculptures for a police station. Sticking with his method of using regular Joes in the community as subjects, the South Bronx Bronzes were created.

However, as soon as they were unveiled, a debate on race erupted. While some accused him of stereotyping black people as hoodlums, others questioned his right to create black sculptures. Disturbed by the controversy, he self-censored the work and took the sculptures down himself.

Next 9 Blu, Art in the Streets Exhibit

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