U.S.A. / 1952
I can't believe I've never featured Ralph Ellison. But, I've been thinking about him quite a lot these past couple of days. I went to The Met to see Kerry James Marshall's newest exhibit, Mastry. Through reading the (horribly written and super white-gazey) information placards, I learned that one of Marshall's influences was Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. This novel about a black American man's experiences with invisibility actually inspired a few of Marshall's paintings. These particular paintings portray black people as being literally black, but subvert this lack of sight with super-white eyes and teeth. When I left the exhibit and went into the gift shop, alongside Marshall's art books were copies of Invisible Man. I almost bought one, but then I remembered that I've had a copy in my closet for years. I tried reading it once, when I was about 16, but I don't think I was mature enough to appreciate it. I only got to the third page. Now that I'm (a little) older, I've come to understand how invisibility impacts my own life - literally. I'm often walked right into, stood right in front of, talked over or outright ignored. Sometimes I literally pinch myself, just to make sure I'm actually still here. Now that the title makes so much sense to me, I know that I'm finally ready to tackle this book. Anyway...this is my favorite photo of Ralph Ellison. I love seeing photos of young writers. This young man was just so clearly charged with something. I also kind of feel like he's judging me for not having read his book yet.