“We’re all a work in progress”: There’s Light explores the intricacies of Black masculinity
The Hawaii-based multi-media creative discusses the purposefully bold design approach and how he hopes the publication will assist self-exploration and acceptance.
- Olivia Hingley
- 11 August 2022
There’s Light kicked off as a way for Glenn Lutz to interact with numerous pressing themes surrounding Black masculinity. “I was thinking about a lot of topics when this idea began to form”, he says, “including how I could create a work that tapped into collective consciousness while fostering a space in which our stories were shared, both literally and figuratively.” Wanting to explore topics such as how Black men are thinking about mental health, what masculinity means to them and how they are actively overcoming inherited trauma, systematic racism and social injustice, he then set himself the task of curating a work “that would assist in one’s self-exploration and acceptance”.
The finished book is truly striking in its artful simplicity and was designed alongside Paprika studio. Early on, when the team began to collate the submissions and ideas, Glenn and the studio realised a “bold” approach was necessary, and that utilising the impactful Martin type from Vocal type for the majority of the book was fitting. Glenn explains how the Martin type was inspired by the protest signs used during the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968, made in response to dangerous working environments in which two workers were killed. “The “I Am A Man” message on the signs is strikingly similar to ‘Black Lives Matter’ and even the older question posed by civil rights activists, “Am I Not a Man and A Brother?’,” Glenn adds. Running through the majority of the book are messages that are spread across two pages in the font, aligning with and enhancing visual content while creating a powerful narrative. “It’s a demand to be seen and treated as a full human being,” Glenn says.
Despite the clear unity throughout There’s Light, the unique submissions and stories vary greatly. Glenn has highlighted two particularly compelling pieces for us here at It’s Nice That, one being Joseph Abbey-Mensah’s photograph Black Boy Joy. In one image showing three young brothers on a beach intertwined and holding each other up in an acrobatic pose, Glenn says this one in particular “speaks to the collective nature of the book”. He also signposts his conversation with his good friend and poet Rickey Laurentis. The first piece in motion for the book, he says how “it meant a lot to me that Rickey agreed to discuss their story and practise for the project, as they do not identify as male but presented as such in the past.” The piece is also accompanied by a “phenomenal” portrait of them, painted by Devan Shimoyama.
With the success of the project, Glenn has plans to expand and adapt a sequel that will open the conversation to male, female and non-binary gender expression and is in talks with a publisher and gallery about how the a sensory experience can be built in conjunction with the book. But, for now, Glenn hopes that There’s Light “sparks some introspection and serves as a reminder that we’re all a work in progress.”
Glenn is also partnering with A.rt R.esources T.ransfer and Feels So Good on a There's Light T-shirt. 100 per cent of the profits from the sales of the shirt will be used to donate books to prisons, schools, libraries and reading centres across the United States through A.R.T.'s Library Program. The T-shirt is available now through to August 28th.
GalleryGlenn Lutz: There’s Light (Copyright © Glenn Lutz, 2022)
Glenn Lutz: There’s Light (Copyright © Glenn Lutz, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.