Born and raised in the Bronx, Glenn Ligon grew up taking art classes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while learning about identity politics through the racism and discrimination toward homosexuality he encountered in New York.
For the past few decades, Ligon has made incisive works that pick apart the sociopolitical context of simple linguistic statements, mining them in the process for the race- and gender-related meanings hidden within them. His work has often taken the form of textual excerpts of phrases screen-printed onto stark backgrounds; their words typically become blurred or disturbed through Ligon’s process.
In recent years, Ligon has become well-known for his neon works. The first neon sculptures, made during the mid-2000s, feature the word “AMERICA” in various arrangements where the word seems to flicker or otherwise appears to flip upside down.