Souls Grown Deep Custom Prints

Joe Light

Elvis, 1992

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About the Artwork

Joe Light (1934–2005), Elvis, 1992

Enamel on wood, 51 1/4 x 36 1/4 in.; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Joe Light earned a modest income at Memphis flea markets, where he bought and sold pop-culture kitsch and castoffs in the forms of toys, comic books, magazines, and movies. He often converted the source materials into highly personal images that reflected his beliefs and values. Light’s portrait of the American singer and movie star Elvis Presley treats the entertainer with the reverence accorded to a religious icon: a crown floats about Elvis’s head, signifying his popular designation as the King of Rock and Roll. The crown contains the stylized imagery of a river, Light’s symbol for “crossing over” to salvation in the afterlife. A flower, emblematic for the artist of earthly temptation and vice, may reference the drug use that ended the singer’s life.

about the artist

Joe Light (1934 - 2005) was born in Dyersburg, Tennessee, and spent his early childhood working on a farm. Light’s religious awakening - his conversion to Judaism while incarcerated for armed robbery - changed the course of his life and fueled his artistic output upon his release from prison in 1966. In the early 1970s, after settling in Memphis with his family, Light translated his religious fervor into the painting of wooden or cardboard signs installed around his yard to express his opinions and inspire the betterment of his neighborhood. His practice soon evolved into painting and sculpture, his two biggest influences being his spirituality and the vibrant, bold aesthetics of commercial culture.

Joe Light’s work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the High Museum of Art.

Learn more about Joe Light here.

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About Our Prints


Souls Grown Deep Custom Prints offers custom reproductions of artworks by Souls Grown Deep artists. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery.