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Constellations IX SE (work of art)

Artwork Info

56 x 40 inches (142.2 x 101.6 centimeters)


Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

Object Number
Mixed Media

Key Ideas

  • This work of art features textured geometric shapes on a black background. Some of the pieces are gilded, or covered with gold. The gold shapes include dots, swirls, chevrons, and other more organic (less defined) forms.
  • Viktor uses the colors black and gold symbolically in her work and combines alphabets and other forms of visual communication from ancient cultures, such as cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia, hieroglyphs from Egypt, and symbols used in Australian Indigenous art.
  • This work of art shows how some African artists use ideas from the past to think about the future. Viktor invites viewers to think about both traditional and more modern color symbolism, and to consider what they associate with the colors black and gold.  



Learn More

Lina Iris Viktor is a Liberian British conceptual artist, painter, and performance artist. She lives and works in New York and in London. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to her work, incorporating materials and methods from both contemporary and ancient art forms, linking the present to the past. Her works combine painting, sculpture, performance, and photography.

Constellations IX SE is an offspring of Viktor’s limited series Constellations. Viktor says that she created Constellations to “recreate the dense blackness that holds light, and gold is the best material to show that, because it is its own light source.” Her work also challenges cultural assumptions about the colors black and gold and what they represent. Gold is often associated with light, wealth, status, success, spirituality, and ornamentation, while black is an adjective more often aligned with gloom, dismay, illness, hostility, and evil. According to Viktor, this coding of (or associations with) the color black has “long determined how we as black people … are spoken about and how we are seen.” Constellations invites viewers to wonder what they are thinking about (and why) when they align their beliefs and values with these types of definitions.

Additional Resources

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Resources for Students:


  • A mixed-media art piece using textured gold to create stars, swirls, and other images on a black background.

    Constellations IX SE