Profile: William Pope.L

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William Pope.L born 1955 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American visual artist best known for his work in performance art, and interventionist public art. However, he has also produced art in painting, photography and theater. He was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of the Creative Capital Visual Arts Award. Pope.L was also included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Pope.L attended Pratt Institute from 1973 to 1975 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program from 1977 to 1978.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, in 1978. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in visual arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1981.

Early Work

From 1990 to 2010, Pope.L was a lecturer of Theater and Rhetoric at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. As a faculty member he directed a production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In the Sun, in which he used both African-American and Caucasian actors as members of the same family. For ATM Piece, performed in 1997, he attached himself with an eight-foot length of Italian sausage to the door of a Chase Bank in midtown Manhattan wearing nothing but a skirt made out of dollar bills. eRacism, a project that Pope.L began during the late 1970s, included over 40 endurance-based performances consisting of “crawls”, varying in length and duration. In one example titled Tompkins Square Crawl (1991) Pope.L dressed in a business suit and crawled through the gutter in Tompkins Square Park, New York, pushing a potted flower with one hand. Another example titled The Great White Way involved a crawl which stretched over 22 miles and took five years to complete. For this performance he donned a Superman outfit and strapped a skateboard to his back. The crawl stretched the entire 22 miles of Broadway, in New York City.  Documentation of this performance was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

 

 

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