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Liberty

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Critical Review

Stik’s Liberty is a series of prints whose image originates from a mural painted by the artist on East 9th Street and Avenue A in New York City. The print exists in blue, orange, green, red, silver and nude, with a special edition of the print containing three figures alongside each other against block colour.

The series’ image originates in a mural painted by Stik on a building on East 9th Street and Avenue A in New York City in collaboration with the Dorian Grey Gallery. Liberty brings together Stik’s signature six-line stickman with an acute awareness of place. The immediate association one the Statue of Liberty, the iconic landmark which Stik’s figure recalls in its pose, yet, the work has a more specific relevance linked to its location. Tompkins Square has a history of civil disobedience and has been a site of tension between the policing of public spaces and the communities that use them. With the typically fragile-looking, yet tall and empowered figure in the mural, looking down at passing pedestrians, Stik clearly nods to Tompkins Square's vital past.

The 10-acre green space (the only park on the Lower East Side at the time) offered an oasis of calm to the workers who undertook long hours in the surrounding tenement kitchens and factories in the 1800s. In 1874, thousands of workers from across the city gathered in the park to protest the lack of unemployment relief where they were subject to violence from the police. More recently, in 1967, protesters sitting against the were clubbed by policemen whilst peacefully protesting the increased policing of public gatherings in the park. Stik’s defiant stickman pays homage to the thousands of individual acts of bravery that mark the history of the place.

Taking his brand of minimalist, emotive to the streets of New York, the artist once again illustrates the capacity for individual action to make a mark. Stik remarks that his works “articulate the persistence of community, but also its frailty. I think that comes across in a lot of my pieces: the persistence of the vulnerable, and the melancholy of hope and tenacity.” There is a simultaneous sense of resilience and fragility in Liberty, a sense that ‘‘we are still here. We’ve not gone yet. We’re hanging on.’’