Miles Ruth encounters art in the galleries: Kehinde Wiley, Mrs. Hale as "Euphrosyne," 2005, oil and enamel on canvas, 82 x 70 1/2 in., Private Collection, Raleigh, North Carolina
We stop in front of Kehinde Wiley’s Mrs. Hale as "Euphrosyne," 2005. Kiara and Miles crouch down, looking at the painting.
Kiara: What colors do you see?
Kiara: Where’s he going in his jersey?
Miles: To baseball!
Kiara: To baseball? Or basketball? What do you think?
Miles: To basketball.
Kiara: Do you like him? Why do you like him?
Miles: Because he’s super strong.
Kiara: Is his skin beautiful? Is it like yours?
Trenton Doyle Hancock, The Bad Promise, 2008, mixed media on canvas, 84 x 109 in., Collection of Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer
We head next to The Bad Promise by Trenton Doyle Hancock, 2008. Miles takes to this painting immediately.
Kiara: Tell us about this piece. What does this look like?
Miles: Sores—on a hand.
Kiara: What happened to it?
Miles: They were picking something. There’s rain.
Kiara: Is there a lot of rain? What’s the rain doing?
Miles: Going through their hand.
Kiara: Do you see any shapes? What do you see?
Miles: I see some dinosaurs. The skin on the hand looks like dinosaurs.
Kiara: Does your hand look like that?
Miles: It’s a little different because I don’t believe in that.
Kiara: Does your hand have a lot of holes in it?
Kiara: Does Mommy’s hand have holes in it?
Miles: Yes! And Daddy’s. (laughing)
Kiara: So what do you think? Do you like this work of art?
Miles: Yeah—it is bubbly. And I like it. My shoes look bubbly! (Miles shows off his Air Jordan sneakers.)
Mickalene Thomas, Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2011, rhinestones, acrylic paint, and oil enamel on wood panel, 108 x 144 in., Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)
Next on our tour is Mickalene Thomas’s Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2011.
Kiara: Look at this one—are they girls or women? Where are they going?
Miles: They’re shiny. They’re going to the dance. I want to go to the dance with Hannah (a classmate).
Kiara: Do they look like anyone we know?
Miles: Kind of.
Kiara: Do you think they’re beautiful?
Kiara: Who has shoes like that?
Miles: Mommy has shoes like that!
Kiara: What about their hair?
Miles: That’s art!
Kiara: Which dress do you like the most?
Miles: (Miles points to the purple dress.)
Kiara: Why’s that?
Miles: Because she looks like she wants to dance with me! I like this one.
Kiara: How does this painting make you feel?
Kiara: What else do you think about it?
Miles: I like it.
Kiara: Is that it?
John Thomas Biggers, Untitled, 1994, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 40 1/4 in., Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)
Our final stop is John Thomas Biggers’s Untitled, 1994.
Kiara: What’s going on?
Miles: The people are with the baby. That’s the boy (Miles points to the child in the middle). I see a frog! A big boy, a small boy, a big boy, a big boy.
Kiara: How do they have their hair?
Miles: In doughnuts! I had a doughnut for lunch.
Kiara: What else is there?
Miles: A crocodile! (makes biting noise)
Kiara: What do they look like they’re doing?
Miles: They’re having a party. They’re listening to the people.
Ellsworth Kelly, Blue Panel, 1980, oil on canvas, 109 1/2 x 95 in., Gift of Mary and Jim Patton in honor of Lawrence J. Wheeler
Walking out of the Museum, Miles throws his hands in the air and says, “I like art!”
Free Family-Friendly Tours are offered most Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 am. No reservations are needed, but space is limited. Meet your Museum guide at West Building Information Desk. Black History Month tours are scheduled for February 24 and 25.