Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Glenn Ligon



Creation Date


Medium & Support

lithographs on paper


16 in. x 12 in. (40.64 cm x 30.48 cm)

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund

Accession Number



This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

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Composed of a block of text using different typefaces and a stock drawing of a stereotypical black figure, each lithograph mimics nineteenth-century ads that slave owners posted or placed in publications in their quest to identify and locate their runaway slaves. Each text begins with the phrase “Ran away,” followed by a description of the artist solicited from different friends. For an African American, reading one after another stimulates a journey—a private and curious series of thoughts. Were any of my ancestors the subjects of such ads? How would I have been described if I were a run­away slave, someone’s property, not seen as a full person? From years of experience, I know that each time I encounter Runaways, the work will invariably move from outside of me to inside of me. More and more, I see the work’s title, Runaways, acquiring a layered irony, or expressing an unfortunate, ongoing truth.

Alvin D. Hall, Class of 1974
Independent Author

Portfolios: FEAT|Highlights on View   FEAT|Contemporary Art