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Change Your Luck, 1988

  • Robert Colescott, American, 1925 - 2009

Acrylic on canvas

  • Unframed: 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)
  • 84 3/4 × 72 3/4 × 2 5/8 inches (215.3 × 184.8 × 6.7 cm)

Museum Purchase, Friends of African and African American Art


Using folklore and totems drawn from the traditions of the African diaspora, Europe, and America, Robert Colescott examines the vexing power of luck. A rabbit's foot or a four-leaf clover can bring luck. Luck is needed to win at dice or cards. Voodoo dolls offer protection and control the fate of others. In some traditional African tales, blacksmiths possess supernatural powers, but in the American South, blacksmiths of African descent often labored hard for little reward. This smith forging a horseshoe--an enduring symbol of luck in Western cultures--has mottled skin. Is he black or white? Colescott interlayers his meanings with ambiguous irony; the inter-racial couple in the upper right may illustrate an idiomatic reading of the phrase "Change Your Luck." The futility of it all is captured in the despairing expression of the man on the right. From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)

2002-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

-Bulletin of the DIA 89, no. 1/4 (2015): 18 (ill.).

Robert Colescott, Change Your Luck, 1988, acrylic on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum Purchase, Friends of African and African American Art, 2002.126.