Sanford Biggers


My commitment: Sparking challenging conversations through art

As a conceptual artist, I’m constantly looking for creative ways to spark challenging conversations. I do this through painting, sculpture, video, and performance. But regardless of the format, two of my favorite materials are history and dialogue.

In 2007, I created Lotus, a 7.5 foot diameter, 600 pound, glass depiction of a lotus blossom. In Buddhism, the lotus is a symbol for transcendence and for purity of mind and spirit. But a closer look at this lotus reveals each petal to be the cross-section of a slave ship. This iconic diagram was taken from a British slaving manual and later used by abolitionists to show the atrocities of slavery.

In America, we don’t like to talk about slavery. Nor do we look at it as a global industry. But by using this Buddhist symbol, I hope to universalize and transcend the history and trauma of black America and encourage discussions about our shared past.



Lotus Installation at the Rubin Museum
Lotus Installation at The Rubin Museum of Art