MLK Was Here [back]

Oil on Panel | 10" x 8" | 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s briefcase that was left in his hotel room after his assassination (referenced from the Henry Groskinsky photo published in Life Magazine).

The briefcase is a time capsule of Dr. King's life at the time of his death with his pajamas, his cologne, the book (a collection of his sermons he authored), shaving cream, and other items needed for his daily agenda.

The idea here is that an object can carry a spiritual connection to a person after their death. The object becomes a relic, which I like to refer to as Mythic Evidence where the item left behind takes on the identity of the person who owned it. These things become greater than what they are, because the object is filled with the owner's life.

The three lines emanating from the hand represent missions of fate, which in this case are striking down the three businessmen and exalting the briefcase to a status of sacred while simultaneously revealing the vulnerability of Dr. King himself.

The highlights are spiritual instructions with the briefcase being circled because of its importance. The three X'ed-out anonymous businessmen, while dressed to symbolically represent importance, will terminate without the same connection to public consciousness. The circled briefcase will carry-on while the men, as Dr. King, will vanish, and what remains is the relationship between us and what we know of Dr. King, breathing life into his objects.

The X'ing-out is not a condemnation nor is the circling of the briefcase a judgment. They are simply part of the editing processes of life.