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Untitled (Lungs)

Rodney McMillian

American Sources Project

By: Jessica Figueroa
10 Questions
1. Why did Rodney choose to make black lungs?
2. Do the white marks in the background mean anything?
3. Do the black lungs symbolize bad health or damaged lungs?
4. Why did Rodney choose for the lungs to be this size?
5. Does the redness beneath the lungs symbolize good health?
6. Why did the artist choose to use this kind of material?
7. Why a black background?
8. Does the shape of the right lung mean anything?
9. What do you think the artist wanted the audience to think when
viewing this piece?
10. Does this artwork have anything to do with race?
About the artwork
Acrylic, fabric, and chicken wire
259.1 x 193 x 45.7 cm (102 x 76 x 18 in.)
Made in 2008-2013
This piece focuses on race, class and a place in
America across a wide range of media. It engages in
history and contemporary culture.
The lungs display current political and social tensions
through their own physicality and they are meant to
cause greater awareness of our own fragile, pulsing
Rodney McMillian
Born in Columbia in 1969
Currently lives and works in Los Angeles
Holds a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University
of Virginia. Studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the
California Institute of the Arts in 2002.
Rodneys work touches on the complexities of
class, race, and place in America across a wide
range of media.
He exposes the social and psychological
consequences of economic inequality, the racism
endemic to Americas political and institutional
landscape, and the failed promise of freedom and
prosperity for all of its citizens.
Beneath the black lungs
you can see redness,
showing a sense of
The lungs seem very large or good health that was
inflamed. once there before but is
now gone.

The lungs are black,

inferencing poor health or

The right lung has

a dent in it to
possibly show

The lungs hang

very low and poor
into the room.
Reminder to Smokers: Your lungs are Aging
MARCH 11, 2008

..when told lung function is normal, a smoker

feels encouraged to quit before it is too late,
and when shown that it is abnormal is
motivated to stop by the fear of further
This article is important because it talks about the struggles smokers go through with
themselves mentally and physically. Within the article doctors tell participants their
lung age in hopes that they will want to stop smoking so slow down deterioration.
13% of the participants quit smoking. This ties into the artwork because the piece
literally shows the deterioration of the lungs through the discoloration and the
physics damage it portrays.
2008 Electoral Votes
This arrival shows the diversity in presidential
election votes since 1988 to 2008.
The nations three biggest minority groupsblacks,
Hispanics and Asianseach accounted for
unprecedented shares of the presidential vote in

This relates to the artwork because at this time it

shows the increase in diversity in 2008. We're all the
same people, we breathe them same air, and we're
all equal. The level of participants from all ethnicities
grew with the increase of eligible minority voters.
My Thoughts
Overall, to me this art piece has a lot of different meanings to it. With its
largeness it show how fragile our bodies really are and how easily things can
affect us not only mentally but physically. It's shows damage over time and the
affect our actions have on our bodies. Everyone's bodies are the same but no
matter the color of our skin, that shouldn't determine our social class or place in
this world.
Rodney McMillian. (2017, March 28). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from
Rodney McMillian: a great society. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
Untitled (lungs), 2008-13. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from