Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Runaways 13551


Glenn Ligon (Bronx, New York, 1960 - )



Creation Date



late 20th century


16 in. x 12 in. (40.64 cm x 30.48 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

lithographs on paper

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

Composed of a block of text using different typefaces and a stock drawing of a stereotypical black figure, each lithograph mimics nineteenth-century ads that slave owners posted or placed in publications in their quest to identify and locate their runaway slaves. Each text begins with the phrase “Ran away,” followed by a description of the artist solicited from different friends. For an African American, reading one after another stimulates a journey—a private and curious series of thoughts. Were any of my ancestors the subjects of such ads? How would I have been described if I were a run­away slave, someone’s property, not seen as a full person? From years of experience, I know that each time I encounter Runaways, the work will invariably move from outside of me to inside of me. More and more, I see the work’s title, Runaways, acquiring a layered irony, or expressing an unfortunate, ongoing truth. Alvin D. Hall, Class of 1974 Independent Author

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