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Sam Gilliam, Artist of “The Real Blue,” Has Died

June 29, 2022

Sam Gilliam, the abstract artist whose work “The Real Blue” was commissioned for the School of Social Work died on Saturday at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 88. “The Real Blue” is the centerpiece of the School’s original art collection.

“Sam Gilliam brought his dynamic use of structures and brilliant deployment of colors to the “The Real Blue,” said Dean Emerita Paula Allen-Meares. This commissioned work of art anchors the collection of artistic works at the School of Social Work. He contextualized this work within the spirit of social justice and the vibrant tapestry of the America we are becoming. His presence lives on in this stunning piece that will continue to influence our social work community.”

Professor Larry Gant sees in the piece the current issues of social work: identities, configurations and critical intersectionality.  “Nothing fits, but it does. The colors are different but they fit; the shapes fit but they aren’t supposed to.  What do we take from that?  It’s abstract art that doesn’t have answers but compels questions and gets your attention, and that’s a really good intent: it gets students able to sit with ambiguity.”

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