Broad shoulder blue boy

Broad Shoulder Blue Boy by Lawson King, Cleveland MS

After I finished the loop around Lake Patsy on my walk in the rain Sunday, I was feeling invigorated enough to keep going. I had decided to finish photographing sculptures in the park and on a cool and overcast day, it seemed reckless to waste the opportunity to do it in comfort. I had seen the blue boy on the first trip to the park, of course. It was a bit further from the path and at the time, I did not feel drawn to walk across. However, there is something in my sometimes quirky characteristics that tends to want closure and completeness along with letting go. Chalk that up to the artist Lawson King, but I will get to him in a moment.

I learned the name of the sculpture while looking for information on the Yokna Sculpture Trail, and while knowing the name helped me make sense of the sculpture (blue head, spiky yellow flat-top), I did not give it much additional thought. Of course, given the penchant for investigation I seem destined to carry for the rest of my life, once I decided to finish the park art review, nothing would do but that I look at the sculpture from all angles.

From a distance, I assumed the blue was the head. After all, it seems to have a mouth, an ear, and a shock of unruly hair. I could not figure out the broad shoulder, and interpreted the top of the sculpture with its broad flat top and rounded edges as the shoulders, but then nothing else made sense. However, in my efforts to look at things from a different mind-set, who I was I to say that sometimes a representation is not exact? After all, we carry our burdens and responsibilities in different manners, and our basis of support or lack thereof is not universal. I have to admit, I stared at that red base of the sculpture for quite some while before I went “ah ha.”

I grew up with Archie and Veronica comic books, and standing in front of blue boy, I felt like I was looking at Jughead. I did not find anything that discusses the sculpture from the artist’s perspective, but an item describing another sculpture provides some thought provoking context. King’s father (a police patrolman) was murdered when Lawson was 3 years old. He was an art student at Delta State University in 2015 the day the campus went on lockdown when a professor was murdered by another professor.

‘It was a massive weight, a heavy cloud, right in that room with us.’ ..King was reminded that he and his two siblings had been left without a father because of gun violence two decades prior.

‘By putting art in public places, anybody can come as they are and as they please, and they don’t have to feel intimidated, and they can have whatever experience they want to have,’ King said.

A Sculpted Purpose: Lawson King’s Path From Indianola to the Mississippi Invitational was Carved by Tragedy, Resilience and Redemption. Bryan Davis, 08/04/21. The Enterprise-Tocsin.

The item was about a new sculpture on display in Jackson and featured a blue hand holding a red balloon. Of it, King said,

‘It is a symbol for anybody reaching for something or letting something go’ ..’To me, that kind of represents the life condition or the human condition of decision making, day-to-day relationships or decisions. Do you want to hang on to this thing or let it go?’

‘I’m here for a little bit. I’m not sure what my next steps are. I trust the process.’

I could not help but be reminded of the many times my colleague and I said to our students who were learning to become an advanced social work practitioner, It is a process. Trust the process.

Ah, the process of becoming…all along the way, the guides are there if we but listen, watch, and reflect.

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8 Responses to Broad shoulder blue boy

  1. Beth says:

    Life is a process, for sure. Everything we do is a process. Washing dishes, putting on makeup, writing blog posts. Just to note for some reason this sculpture reminds me of the Simpsons (gag and laugh).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peggy says:

    Deep thoughts – the process of life. I cannot see any broad shoulders in the sculpture. My problem is – I like things to look realistic and anything abstract is not realy interesting to me. Sorry, just my way of thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      The preference for realism runs deep–it is why all the murals and other art work from the New Deal Administration were realism modes, and anything with the hint of modernism rarely made it onto a canvas. The broad shoulder is the red base–just as our head/neck rest on our shoulders. It has the outline shape of shoulders.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I might get obsessed looking at this one from all angles to try to find the broad shoulders!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      It is weird to me in a way, but the more I looked at this sculpture (that really had not appealed to me initially), the more I liked it. I had a similar experience with learning to appreciate Brutalism architecture. I think it is one of the reasons King’s comment that art in public places meant people can have whatever experience they want to have. It was also the impetus behind the public art works of the New Deal Administration–art for the people in everyday places.


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