The big tchotchke

A Dallas artist can't understand how his statuette of a freed slave ended up as a public monument--in Barbados

McKay's wife, Linda, says she thought his "Roots" piece was far too kitschy when he first designed it. But she concedes, "We needed the money. We weren't as well off then as we are now. But it was the whole mass-marketing thing."

McKay recalls that she was particularly horrified when her husband met actor LeVar Burton--who plays the young Kunte Kinte in the miniseries--at the 8.0 and asked Burton to come over and autograph a few of the statuettes.

In Barbados, Broodhagen says he, too, has thought about reproducing the image. But first, he has had to take on a merchandiser in Barbados who has been making a six-inch replica of his statue and brazenly selling it on the street.

"I had to hire a lawyer to stop him," says Broodhagen, bringing things full circle. Indeed, if McKay's suspicions were true, it would be quite a tale--a commercial tchotchke is turned into fine art, then finds its way back to its original state as a gewgaw.

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