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Object Details

John Ahearn
Rigoberto Torres
acrylic on hydrocal plaster
20 3/16 × 25 3/8 × 8 1/4 in. (51.2 × 64.5 × 21 cm)
Cite As
Gift of the Artists
Sculptors John Ahearn (1951-) and Rigoberto Torres (1960-) crafted this bust of Carroll Payne, an African American community leader in Washington, DC, in 1992. The lifecast depicts Payne from the chest up in hydrocal plaster. His features and attire come to life in acrylic paint based on a Polaroid photograph taken at the time of the casting. Payne, looking directly at the viewer, wears a black shirt, necklace and kufi hat in green-and-white, black, yellow, and red stripes.
A graduate of Federal City College (now University of the District of Columbia), Payne worked at Potomac Gardens, a public housing project in southeastern Capitol Hill, where children and teens affectionately called him “Uncle Skeezie.” He also taught leadership skills to at-risk youth through the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Roving Leaders Program and volunteered at John Tyler Elementary School with fellow mentor John “Peter Bug” Matthews. Payne’s portrait was among those made by the Bronx-based artists in collaboration with residents of Anacostia and Congress Heights as well as youth at the Latin American Youth Center in Columbia Heights, for a community art project sponsored by Washington Project for the Arts (WPA). “Skeezy” was on display at the WPA’s related exhibition, “John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres: Face to Face/Cara Cara,” held in dual locations: at the WPA’s downtown gallery and at the former Congress Heights High School on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in Anacostia. In 1993, the bust traveled to Manhattan for “The 42nd Street Art Project,” a groundbreaking community exhibit that transformed Times Square into a public art gallery.
Accession Number
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum
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