Wardell Milan, Michael Ross, 2018. Cut-and-paste printed paper and gelatin silver prints, watercolour, graphite. Overall: 40.6 x 26.4 cm. Purchase, with funds from the Photography Curatorial Committee, 2019. 2019/2250. © Wardell Milan.
“The act of cutting and dissecting images and materials—to then use these fragments to create a new form or figure—has always been exciting.” —Wardell Milan
This artwork is by the contemporary artist Wardell Milan. It is called Michael Ross. The main visual source Milan uses here is an image of Michael Ross, who often modelled for the well-known photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Thinking about the visual record Milan has inherited as a gay Black man in the United States, he asks: Are these my ancestors? And, if so, what does that mean? Creatively combining photographic and drawn elements, Milan gives us a new portrait of Ross, gazing directly and steadfastly outward.