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The Embrace Statue

Embrace, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial sculpture at Boston Common. | Source: Boston Globe / Getty

OK, good people, I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now. You might have marveled at its aesthetic. You might have mocked it for its ugliness. You might have spent several minutes looking at photos of it taken from different angles while still scratching your head wondering just what in the hell it even is.

But you’ve definitely seen this sculpture meant to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King that was unveiled in Boston.

As you can see, the monument designed by Brooklyn-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, which was inspired by the iconic photograph of the Kings hugging after MLK won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, only features the couple’s arms during the embrace. No heads. No bodies. Just the arms.

Now, to be fair, plenty of people appreciate the statue, titled “The Embrace.” A lot of people saw it as artsy and abstract, but a fine piece to commemorate the legendary civil rights activists nonetheless.

Then there’s Black Twitter, the subsection of the Twitter-verse we rely on to ask the important initial questions: Is it a giant feces statue? Is this what you get when you type “big bronze body parts” into a PornHub search engine? Nah, but seriously, what happened to their heads? MLK didn’t die by decapitation, so WTF is this?

While some people thought posting the statue side-by-side with the original photo added much-needed context, others pointed out that neither the comparison nor the multiple angles the sculpture could be viewed from changed the fact that it looks like a giant Rorschach test given to people with weird elbow fetishes. (Not that I’m here to kink shame.)

Apparently, even a relative of Coretta Scott King thought it looked like something that should be banned from several social media outlets for “nudity.”

Scott King’s cousin wasn’t alone in that sentiment. There were quite a few people who simply thought it was inappropriate for an MLK Day celebration because the King was not born nor did he die for this monument to awkward, suggestive ghost arms.

Personally, I don’t necessarily think it’s problematic—just weird. But hey, art is meant to be felt and interpreted in a variety of ways depending on who’s looking at it.

So, what do y’all think?


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