Self’s newest edition sees the artist translate the Black Panther Party’s iconic symbol into a large-scale etching. The work is comprised of seven plates and employs a mix of etching techniques including soft ground, spit bite, open bite and gravure. Several of these etching techniques mimic the patterns of manufactured fabric while others are gestural, showing the artist’s hand. These textural differences in each of the seven plates, along with the gold leafing of the eyes of the panther, create distinct patterns and swirls of tone that appear collaged together, mirroring the approach of the use of fabric and layered materials in Self’s canvas works. The panther appears on a white void, highlighting its status as a symbol while also showing the plate edge and emphasizing the dimensional effect of pressing. The image is encased in a frame painted with the colors of the Pan-African flag, placing it in context of a movement celebrating Black liberation in the United States.
In a speech delivered at the 1966 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)-sponsored "Black Power and its Challenges" conference at U.C. Berkeley, activist and organizer Stokely Carmichael said, “We chose for the emblem a black panther, a beautiful black animal which symbolizes the strength and dignity of black people, an animal that never strikes back until he's back so far into the wall, he's got nothing to do but spring out. Yeah. And when he springs he does not stop.”