Two short years after President Obama became the first African American president to hold Presidential office, artist Willie Little began an ambitious satirical body of work about racism in the tea party movement, titled “In the Hood”. He began sculpting, painting, and crafting his multimedia creations, shaping his impressions of Tea Party rhetoric into solid representations of what they symbolized to him; a return to the racist roots of the South — a modern KKK.

He started on the work in 2010, in the height of the Tea Party movement’s surge across the country. It set out to answer the following questions, according to Little’s website:

They want to take America back?
From whom?
To where?
At what cost?

Several years into his project, Little developed a life-threatening illness and was forced to put his work on hold as he recovered. After regaining his health, he pushed ahead with his vision, and now, Little’s exhibition “In the Hood,”  is currently showing at the Charlotte New Gallery of Modern Art. It stands tall in the museum alongside some of the most important art in the nation.

It’s theme? An indictment of tea party extremists who perpetuate the ideology of the KKK.

One of his main strategies, Little told the Charlotte Observer, is to surround racist artifacts with hip-hop symbols, wedding “the KKK with the very culture it may hate so much, thus becoming perhaps its metaphorical worst nightmare.” Of course, the exhibition has a ton of symbolic teabags, ranging from “cheap grocery-store bags” to “trendy silken pyramidal bags” — which the artist has shaped into miniature Klan hoods.

The Observer a describes the installation (which you can see bits and pieces of in the snapshots below):

The centerpiece of the show is the title work, a large installation that is, literally, in the hood – a 20-foot-tall walk-in Klan hood that houses disturbing objects.

Inside the hood is a life-size figure – Little’s rendition of the Hottentot Venus, an enslaved South African woman named Sarah Baartman, who was displayed in London freak shows because of her enormous buttocks and may have inspired the bustle. Here, her skirt is made from 1,000 hand-dipped black teabags. Above her is a chandelier of ornamental pearl strands, interspersed with blackface baby dolls.

 

Detail of Yes We Klan 2012 [Image Credit: littlewillie.com]
KKK Ghetto Clock _10
Ghetto Fabu K Clock, 13.5×16.5×3 2012 [Image Credit: littlewillie.com]
Minstral Doll Chandelier, 35x55x35 2012 [Image Credit: willielittle.com]
Minstral Doll Chandelier, 35x55x35 2012 [Image Credit: willielittle.com]
Little’s website discusses the work:

Through socio-political satire, the multimedia installation alludes to the irrationality of America’s nouveau KKK (a vocal extreme right faction of the new Tea Party)* and its rise to the mainstream with its shameless, divisive rhetoric and obsession with race, blame, and hyperbole. In the Hood contrasts elements of the defiant, ever present, mocked, ridiculed, yet copied Hip Hop culture, with the phenomena of new emerging Tea Party. The farcical parody is the juxtaposition of this unlikely pair. The union weds the KKK with the very culture it may hate so much, thus becoming perhaps its metaphorical worst nightmare.

The subject of the work is a personal topic close to the artist’s heart; Willie Little is an African American man who was born and raised in rural North Carolina. Understandably, many of his works are rooted in the Southern traditions of his upbringing. Little says his art “sees beauty in history and decay”.

While creating “In the Hood”, Little often thought about being an idealistic 18-year-old heading to predominately white UNC Chapel Hill. At the time, he had a visioned  ofhis future “in a country filled with racial harmony.” Instead, he said, “I’m saddened that we have to have Moral Mondays in my home state, I’m saddened that there is voter suppression in my home state, I’m saddened that there are Selma-like militia police forces in this country in 2014.”

Little is a well-known multimedia artist whose work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and in many other cities across the US as well as internationally.

You can learn more about the artist and his work at WillieLittle.com.

  • Ratcraft

    So attractive. His 2nd grade art teacher must be proud.

    • That’s in the same museam as some Picassos in the heart of Charlotte, NC. Little is a very talented and well-known, respected artist. He also has work in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History. don’t let your jealousy shw how ignorant you are.

      • Ratcraft

        Barak Obama won the peace prize too…… He’s going to be in the African American presidential hall of fame too. But anyways, Robert Maplethorpe comes to mind. He should have put a bullwhip up the elephants butt huh? Maybe put it in urine. I have been called ignorant how many times now? Is it like a pet word for you? I kind of like it.

        • Barack Obama will be forever written in the history books as doing something more significant in his life than Ratcraft. Little will be taught in Art History classes. That burns, doesn’t it? lol

          • Ratcraft

            Burns? Come on, really? Like I would want to be remembered the way he will. Oh I know, he’s darn near Jesus to you, but to us racist bigots who love gas chambers and throwing old women out on the street and letting children starve and removing all choice in life, not so much. That is like asking you if you would want to be remembered like Bush……

          • Well..>Obama DID send a Seal Team that captured Bin laden. He IS the first African American president in the United States, that will never change no matter what, lol. Not a bad thing to be remembered as in the history books.

            I’ll let you know when they create an Encyclopedia of trolling, so I can nominate a passage dedicated to you.

          • Ratcraft

            Hypatia, we have we have Osama in out sites. can we go kill him? Real hard saying yes. Not like it’s the Fonz trying to say he was wrong, right? His life was not in danger, yet he pounds his chest. As far as being a black president? Why does his skin color matter? There are a lot of black guys I’d love as president. You of course would hate them, but you would not be racist for it, only non leftists can be racist.

  • Roger Ramjet

    You Leftists are such liars.

    Here’s the history of the Democratic party:

    Not only defended slavery, they promoted slavery.
    Not only defended segregation, they promoted segregation.
    At is core, it was the party of racism then, and it’s the party of racism now.

    The Republican Party was founded as the abolitionist, anti-slavery party. The party has never stood for slavery or segregation, ever. Not a single Republican governor stood in the schoolhouse door blocking kids who happened to be black from attending school. But a number of Democrat governors sure did. I can’t think of a single Republican Attorney General who tapped Martin Luther King’s telephone, either. But the Democrat AG sure did. (No wonder MLK was a Republican).

    Although the Left can’t use slavery or segregation today, they use diabolical schemes that do the same thing. Take LBJ for example. Yeah, LBJ was a horrific racist too, designing his social assistance programs to purposefully enslave blacks and make them dependent on the Democratic Party, as he himself said, “for the next 200 years.” LBJ’s plan worked swimmingly well. Just look at how, after his “war on poverty” was passed, the black family was again segregated, made dependent on, and then eviscerated by government programs like AFDC, Welfare. So, he destroys their chance at the American Dream while simultaneously making them a reliable voting block as they depend on the very vehicle that wiped them out.

    Google “LBJ Racist Quotes” and see what he really thought about Blacks – in his own, recorded words.

    It is the Left that are the racists amongst us.

    • LBJ was in power long before I was born and when I vote for a Democrat, I am voting for their current values and platform. Not pre-integration policy.

      The only Republican party most young people has ever known is the one that favors secession and a return to slavery, the same one that supported apartheid under Reagan, and would love to outlaw being gay and other “moral sins” according to their dogmatic beliefs

      Tell me, what does Mitt Romney think about “blacks”? What about those guys in the Republican party in Georgia and Mississippi who believe registering black people to vote should be illegal?

      You are living in the past, and not addressing today’s Republican Party values.

      I don’t vote based on the past, I vote based on what I want for the future, as do most progressives. A vote for the Republican Party is a vote against progress.

      Republicans now have a platform based on the “good old days” where equal pay wasn’t even a glimmer of hop[e, abortion was illegal, affirmative action hadn’t even been concieved, and anyone can hire and fire anyone based on their sexuality, religion, or race.

      No thanks GOP shill, no thanks

      • Roger Ramjet

        You’re completely full of crap. What blather you write… Slavery, apartheid, blah blah blah… Stupid, Leftist blather that is coherent, ignores history, ignores empirical data and, most especially, ignores your horrific record of failures that your policies have created over the past 50 years.

        Not that you care – because empirical evidence means nothing to Leftist ideologues like you – choke this down:

        President Reagan reduced the maximum tax rate on job creators by 60 percent; Mr. Obama increased the maximum tax rate on job creators by 17 percent. Reagan cut non-defense, discretionary, federal government spending by a third as a percentage of gross domestic product; Mr. Obama has increased it. Reagan cut government regulations while Mr. Obama has greatly increased them.

        The results are:

        Under Reagan, adult black unemployment fell by 20 percent, but under Mr. Obama, it has increased by 42 percent.

        Black teenage unemployment fell by 16 percent under Reagan, but has risen by 56 percent under Mr. Obama.

        The increase in unemployment rates has been far worse for blacks under Mr. Obama than for whites and Hispanics.

        Inflation-adjusted real incomes are slightly higher for Hispanics and whites than they were in 2008, but are lower for blacks.

        The labor force participation rate has fallen for all groups, but remains far lower for blacks than for whites and Hispanics.

        Most people, when confronted with the evidence presented above, probably would realize that they had been mistaken and then try a set of policies that were successful in the past. Not Mr. Obama NOR NUTJOBS LIKE YOU. Given the tenor of his most recent talks, he seems to be intent on doubling down on his own failed policies – a typical response from you and yours…”More”

        It’s you who are the greedy, selfish a-holes that are ruining this nation.