The ‘Friendliest Black Artist in America’ Comes to Stanford

William Pope.L and his giant flag 'Trinket' coutesy of William Pope.L (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Wiliam Pope.L is an artist whose work a lot of people have seen, even if they haven’t heard his name: he made the giant, extra-long American flag with 51 stars and its stripes in tatters that flapped behind Kendrick Lamar as he sang at the 2015 BET Awards.

A print from artist William Pope.L
A print from artist William Pope.L (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

In some ways, that was among the most conventional of Pope.L’s works. His official business cards tease at issues about white fears of African-American men with the words “The friendliest black artist in America.” He’s also eaten — and vomited up — copies of the Wall Street Journal, tied himself to a bank door and handed out money, and sold snowballs on the streets of New York City during winter.

Ha also makes makes prints of bold words on paper, like “BLACK PEOPLE ARE THE RAIN AGAINST MY WINDSHIELD” or “WHITE PEOPLE ARE MY TEARS.” As my co-host A-lan Holt says, he’s stirring up just enough controversy to jolt us all awake. You can get a taste of Pope.L’s dry humor and humanity when he gives an artist’s talk at Stanford University’s Oshman Hall on Jan. 18. Details here.

The ‘Friendliest Black Artist in America’ Comes to Stanford 10 January,2018Cy Musiker


Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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