The Embrace is a bronze sculpture by Hank Willis Thomas that was installed on the Boston Common late last year. I recently had a chance to see it in person, having been quite curious given its negative reception by the public. The Embrace is a depiction of a hug between Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King after Martin received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. It is an abstraction, though, as there are four arms intertwined but no heads and so the notion of hug is hinted at and not entirely obvious.
Having now had a chance to see it in person, I can say that I understand the criticism. Certainly. But, I will also say that this is a work that requires some time to appreciate and you must roam around and see it from different angles, even walk underneath and look up into the hulking bronze arch to appreciate the details.
I’m left with mixed emotions… and am sure that I will return and spend more time with it. This is not something I’m accustomed to with this art form, sculpture. Images can captive me, pull me in, and demand that I pause to appreciate. I tend to glance at sculpture and gather all I need to know quickly, and then move on. I have no doubt this is more about me than the art. But, The Embrace leaves me wanting to linger. To slow down and to study.
Perhaps that’s the point.