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More About "Black Boy" by Leon Hicks

Black Boy, an engraving from 1961, is one of Leon Hicks' earlier works. While this piece is not in his Drawings Through Time exhibition, it is mentioned when interpreting his current series of graphite drawings titled American Boy. Mr. Hicks believes he is born American before anything else, so this engraving could be interpreted as a successor to American Boy.

As a master engraver and printmaker, Leon Hicks' works are primarily engravings. However, he currently creates more drawings. Many of Mr. Hicks' engravings, including Black Boy, are made using copper plates. He uses a tool called a "burin" to carve into the copper plate and make the engraving. A burin is a tool that is used to carve into copper plates for engravings. This tool is cut or ground down diagonally to form a diamond-shaped tip. Depending on the angle of the burin's point, the lines can have varying depth in an engraving (Britannica, 2008).

Burins from Leon Hicks' studio.

Once Mr. Hicks is done carving and adds a burnish to the plate, he puts ink on it and transfers the design onto a paper of his choice. There are only 150 copies ever made of Black Boy. As of recent, the copper plate Mr. Hicks used for this engraving has been destroyed. This means that no more can be made, increasing the value of each copy of Black Boy currently out there.

Drawings Through Time will be on display until April 28th. Venvi Art Gallery is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12:30-5:30pm.

Learn more about Leon Hicks' works at and read more about the series of works featured in Drawings Through Time at


Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2008, September 12). burin. Encyclopedia Britannica.

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