Artist Michael Richards created “Are You Down?” in 2000, featuring three life-size human figures surrounding a target, which represent the artist in uniform as a Tuskegee Airman. The three parachutists appear to have fallen from the sky, sitting discontent on the ground in what appear to be puddles of tar. The multi-layered artwork raises awareness of the Tuskegee Airmen’s impact on World War II and the history of achieving civil rights for African Americans.
Shortly after creating this sculpture, Richards was selected as artist-in-residence for a program at the World Trade Center. He was working in his studio in Tower One on September 11, 2001, when his life was tragically cut short. Richards’ portfolio of work had challenged oppression and addressed issues of social injustice, and was deeply inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen. For more, see his sculpture “Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian.”
The Franconia Sculpture Park, located in the northeast Minneapolis area, is free and open to the public year-round and features 43 acres of large-scale two- and three-dimensional artwork.