Eric Luken 16 JonBenéts, 2000 screenprint on canvas. Artist-in-Residence: Glenn Ligon
When I first heard Glenn Ligon talk about this project, I immediately knew that Andy Warhol's 16 Jackies would be the piece I would sample. I have always been attracted to Warhol's artwork, mainly because he focuses a lot on celebrities and pop-culture items, two subjects that I find fascinating. Right away I also knew that JonBenét Ramsey would be the perfect figure to take Jacqueline Kennedy's place within the work. Jackie's celebrity increased through her husband's assassination and that is why Warhol chose to turn these media images into artwork. JonBenét is also a celebrity, yet only after her own death. So I felt it was very interesting to pick up on the way the media has gone from exploiting the widow of a celebrity to now going straight to capitalizing on a person who was relatively unknown until she became a victim.
I felt it would only be right if I stayed within the boundaries that Warhol had set for the original work, so I kept to the same size, colors, and anything else that was replicable for my piece. In the beginning I chose eight images of JonBenét from the Internet, but I quickly found the four that most mirrored Jackie in terms of facial expression, head direction, and overall appearance. Silkscreening, as I would find out, is not an easy first-time experience. Through many tests and trials, I produced four screens. I built 16 wooden frames, stretched the canvases, and finally screwed the sections together with the aid of a power tool.