Illustration by Maria Manhattan
David Hammons was born in 1943 in Springfield, Illinois and grew up there—the youngest of ten children. As a student he was placed in vocational courses, but drawing came easily to him, and in 1962 he moved to Los Angeles to train as a commercial artist. He got involved in the international avant- garde scene and the Civil Rights movement, and expressed his discontent with the American political, social, and economic system through his mixed-media artwork. He is known for using everyday things in assemblages and installations that embrace African American life and culture. In 1991 Hammons won a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. He is also the recipient of a Prix de Rome—a prestigious scholarship for students of the arts.