Black Lives Matter: Speaking Out Using Art
I’ve thought over and over how I wish to share this piece of art. With every idea things just didn’t seem right. Honestly, I had a lot of fear. Fear that I won’t approach it the right way, that I would have missed too many people, I didn’t give these people and families the respect they deserve, I’m white and I can’t fully understand, and it goes on and on and on.
Struggling with How to Speak Out During Black Lives Matter
To begin, I’ll just share my heart on why I wanted to create my first political piece. I’ve been on a journey of making an effort to understand systemic racism and different experiences that I have been fortunate to not have to deal with during my adolescence or day to day life. It’s not easy to to learn entirely different perspectives without ever having been in someone else’s shoes. It takes a great deal of patience for someone you know and love to help guide you and I’ve been so blessed to be around someone who has been willing to show me.
With recent events following George Floyd’s murder I have been pressed with feeling like I need to do or say something, but what can I even do or say?! There were countless friends who participated in Blackout Tuesday where people posted just a black screen. Although I was in support of this message I was very confused at seeing my white friends’ blackout posts when I have never, ever heard them discuss the daily trials and tribulations black people have to go through. To me, they seemed to be following a fad (I know I may not be accurate on this but please understand I am only expressing my thoughts).
BLM Featured Instagram Story
I realized there was an opportunity for me to provide my friends with resources that helped me better understand this topic, whether it be other social posts, helpful videos, books, quotes, illustrations, anything. Rather than doing a blackout post I chose to create a BLM featured story on my personal account where it could be a continuous effort and potentially reaching and helping someone else.
Still, that’s not enough. I probably won’t ever feel like I do enough. But I realized I have a God given gift and talent to create art. Famous artists have made political pieces all the time. Artists could express their beliefs and drive for change through a creative outlet. Why couldn’t I do that? Sure, I am a tiny little Houston artist with like 600 Instagram followers, but that doesn’t mean I cannot be heard.
Creating a Black Lives Matter Political Piece
I decided I would make a map - a Houston map in an all-black color palette. Using a technique previously used for my Houston Neighborhoods map, I filled the Houston map spaces with words. This time, I filled it with popular BLM quotes & protest signs, as well as the names of black people killed by police brutality dating back to about 2013.
Painting with a Heavy Heart
While creating this piece I had never felt my heart as heavy as it became. Having to research those who have been killed, learning how they died, and physically writing out their names. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry while painting and that has never in my life ever occurred. Even after finishing I was in a terribly sad mood for days where my heart was just broken. To me, this piece is powerful and has extensive meaning. I cannot express enough how my love goes out to these families and I am so sorry for any name I left out. It’s possible I missed one during my research. It’s possible a name was not given in police reports. It’s possible you are a loved one of someone killed by police brutality and not black. Hispanics, Mexicans, Asians, Whites, and more have also been killed in Houston. My intent for this piece was to focus on black lives lost.
Black Lives Matter Houston Map Meaning
There is a lot going on in this piece and I hope you take the time to really look at it, each complex and different space of the map, each name, I hope you read them, say them, I hope you think about the quotes and phrases.
Using multiple resources, I identified black people killed by police brutality in Houston. I found records dating back to about 2013 but I know there have to be so many more in previous years. Some records even said, “unknown” and that was another kind of sadness.
"Lost in the Noise"
The piece is titled, “Lost in the Noise.” You can’t read all of the names and that’s on purpose. This represents how we are now flooded and bombarded with these killings so frequently that these people, these human lives with families and friends, literally become another name in the news. Then the news is drowned out by all the other craziness going on in this world. People become names and names become blurred and then we forget or we don’t care.
The quotes and phrases are from popular protest signs. The totally black spaces are from Blackout Tuesday. The Houston map lines, which was carefully decided not to be done in my signature modeling paste, have two meanings. The first is they look like chalk lines that are used to outline a dead body. The second is it’s the very apparent contrast between black and white which symbolizes the Great Divide of Whites from Blacks. These are barriers that have to be removed or our world can never truly move forward.
Black Lives Matter Art Auction & Donations
I plan to auction this piece and I am working with two companies to create a sequel that will, believe it or not, enhance this piece even further. I will not be taking any proceeds of this piece and I am working to partner with organizations in Houston to appropriately distribute the money to who needs it most.
A huge thank you to my friend, Ryan, who has seen my vision from the beginning and pushed me to think bigger. He has helped me get this piece in front of those who can help me with expansion to those I cannot reach on my own. Additionally, he is working on creating a powerful poem that goes with this piece that I cannot wait to share with you all.
More info to come revolving how to donate and/or participate in the auction. Those who donate will receive a print of this piece.
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
Although I am one person I have the power to make a difference. Just like the big quote on my map says, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” I refuse to stay quiet. Please enjoy this work of art and I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in agreement or opposing. Let’s have a conversation.
*Names on the map: Adrian Medearis, Rayshard Scales, Randy Lewis, Shelly Trey, Hallis Kinsey, Richard McKenzie, Anthony Williams, Frederick Roy, Brian Crawford, Christopher Nelms, Alva Braziel, Jordan Baker, John Allen, Martin Ryans, Cody Point, Roderick Taylor, Jarrod Hill, Matthew Swiney, Marcellus Burley, Lawrence Thompson lll, Kenny Montgomery, Scott Bennet, Willie Simmons