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Between and Mortarboard

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A. Media Center

Accession Number

A. Media Center

Sam Gilliam

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
Laser cut transparency, paint, photographs, and cellophane on paper

21 13/16 in x 27 13/16 in x 3 in (55.4 cm x 70.64 cm x 7.62 cm);21 13/16 in x 27 13/16 in x 3 in (55.4 cm x 70.64 cm x 7.62 cm);16 7/8 in x 22 15/16 in (42.86 cm x 58.26 cm)

Credit Line
Transfer from the University of Michigan Art, Architecture and Engineering Libraries

Subject matter
It appears this was part of a project study for the entrance atrium area of the Duderstadt center at the University of Michigan, although it is unclear if it was installed. Sam Gilliam is best known for his drape paintings, which blur the line between painting and sculpture, and the designs placed on the ceiling here are reminiscent of the placement of some of his work. Gilliam began working with metals in the late 1980s and 1990s, when he started doing outdoor public art comissions. He is known for experimenting with surfaces and textures, and he abandoned the standard canvas fairly early in his career. Unlike many other African American artists working during the same periods, Gilliam has achieved great success. Notably, his work has done well at auction. Several of his paintings were auctioned at Swann's first African American art auction in 2007. Gilliam has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is included in the permanent collections of major museums.

Gilliam worked with the University of Michigan in 1998, when he was comissioned to create a sculpture, The Real Blue, for the University of Michigan School of Social Work Library.

Physical Description
This piece rests in a wooden frame and consists of three photographs assembled in a cubist-like way. The photographs show the interior of the University of Michigan's Duderstadt Center. Honey comb-like laser cut transparencies seem to hang from the ceiling and black CAD drawings, and a small red triangle appears on the left side of work.The artist and another man are shown in the lower right corner looking at these decorative additions to the building. 

Primary Object Classification
Mixed Media

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
African American
color photographs
studies (visual works)

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