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Catalog Data

Created by:
Jefferson Pinder, American, born 1970  Search this
Subject of:
President Barack Obama, American, born 1961  Search this
Sun Ra, American, 1914 - 1993  Search this
Stevie Wonder, American, born 1950  Search this
tin, wood, chrome, loudspeakers, audiovisual equipment and mixed media
H x W x D: 92 1/2 × 75 × 86 in., 571 lb. (235 × 190.5 × 218.4 cm, 259 kg)
multimedia works
Place made:
Washington, District of Columbia, United States, North and Central America
“We grew up when NASA was in its golden age. Remember, the first interracial kiss on television was in outer space on Star Trek. Science fiction fantasy … is, in part, a spiritual place that African Americans have always inhabited.” — Jefferson Pinder
Jefferson Pinder constructed this sculpture with wood salvaged from President Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural platform and ceiling tin from a gutted Baltimore house. Referencing the past, present, and future, Mothership symbolizes the transportation and transformation of Black people toward new and unchartered territory, concepts underscored by the work’s shape—NASA’s Mercury spacecraft—and its name, derived from singer-songwriter George Clinton’s stage prop, the Mothership.
An abstracted replica of the NASA Mercury space capsule. The sculpture is made from pieces of tin that were salvaged from structures in and around Baltimore, Maryland, and re-purposed lumber gathered from President Obama’s 2009 inaugural platform. The sculpture is displayed angled onto its side. Inserted into the top of the sculpture is an Altec (R) model 416-8A sub-woofer speaker, and the base of the sculpture is a 24" chrome alloy (wheel) rim. In the interior of the sculpture is a Philips DVD player (HTS3371D), with a Philips audio cable connecting the player to the speaker, and a remote to control the player externally. A DVD plays from inside the sculpture on a loop, bass tones only: “Space is the Place” by Sun Ra and “Living in the City” by Stevie Wonder.
African American  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Art  Search this
Funk (Music)  Search this
Identity  Search this
Local and regional  Search this
Politics  Search this
Technology  Search this
Transportation  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Henry Thaggert III in memory of Burnell P. Thaggert
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Jefferson Pinder
Permission required for use. Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Visual Arts
Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Culture/Fourth Floor, 4 052
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture