Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University
An homage to the Mardi Gras Indians, Spy Boy depicts the tradition of African Americans ornamenting themselves in elaborate feathers as a tribute to the Native Americans who helped fugitive slaves escape from through the Louisiana bayous. The art toy unites the celebrated New Orleans tradition with aspects of the upbringing of the artist, Compton III.
New Orleans native Stephen G. Compton, known as Compton III, attributes much of his influence for Spy Boy to his grandfather’s involvement in The Wild Magnolia tribe. Details, such as the piece’s three raised fingers upon the feathers and the orange hue, are further odes to his grandfather. Depicted as an art toy, in the style of KAWS, Spy Boy is reflective of his childhood perception of his missed opportunity to participate in this tradition.
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