European debut for Obama exhibit

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Print of Obama entitled 'Change'. Image © Nicola Green

Print of Obama entitled ‘Change’. Image © Nicola Green

As US President Barack Obama begins his second four-year stint as US President, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery is hosting a new exhibition depicting him in the days before he secured his first term in office.

In Seven Days… is a ground-breaking collection by London-based artist Nicola Green and the display of silkscreen prints makes its European debut at the gallery, following a successful showing at Harvard Law School, Massachusetts.

The study of this historic event, in which the USA’s first black president elected, coincides with the inauguration of Obama into his second term of office on 21 January, which is also Martin Luther King Day.

The exhibit is said to have a neutral political stance but Green, who was pregnant with her second child at the start of the campaign, said: “It seemed natural to make a portrait of Obama, when I looked at my sons I saw his face in theirs, saw their hope and their future.

“It was at that point I actually realised this was a bigger thing  than just a portrait of one man, that it was all of our story.”

The pictures tell the story of two journeys, that of Obama and his rise to power and that of Green, who travelled to the USA on no fewer than six occasions to compile her work.

Director of Art Galleries Sandra Penketh said: “We’re really pleased to be the first gallery in Europe to show In Seven Days… Liverpool has a global history which resonates with the themes of race and identity within the work.”

The seven images, entitled ‘Light’, ‘Struggle’, ‘Hope’, ‘Change’, ‘Fear’, ‘Sacrifice/Embrace’ and ‘Peace’, are displayed alongside quotes from the president and a selection of ephemera which Green collected as she travelled alongside the campaign.

Print of Obama entitled 'Sacrifice/Embrace' . Image © Nicola Green

Print of Obama entitled ‘Sacrifice/Embrace’ . Image © Nicola Green

The collection is just a small sample of the work that Green gathered, but it gives a real insight into the task of reducing noise, crowds, speeches and propaganda into these minimalist images.

At the Democratic Party convention in Denver 2008 Obama told his loyal followers: “Alongside our famous individualism there is another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one.”

This sentiment is echoed in the exhibit which brings both Green’s and Obama’s qualities and beliefs together to form an individual display of incredible art.

In his second inaugural address on Monday, Obama set out his vision for the next four years and said: “Our journey is not complete.”

He added: “This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience,” he said. “A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless.”

The exhibition runs at the Walker Art Gallery in William Brown Street until April 14th.

About Scott Rumsey, JMU Journalism