Artists Jammie Holmes, Nick Cave, and Shepard Fairey Respond to George Floyd’s Death
2 June 2020
Holmes shared Floyd's last words on flying banners that appeared over five US cities.
Jammie Holmes, They're Going to Kill Me (Dallas) (2020). Courtesy Jammie Holmes and Library Street Collective. Photo by Mark LaBoyteaux.
American artists are responding to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25, prompting protests around the world.
Dallas-based artist Jammie Holmes worked with his gallery in Detroit, Library Street Collective, to commission flying banners in five cities communicating Floyd's final words. 'PLEASE I CAN'T BREATHE', for instance, appeared above Detroit, while 'THEY'RE GOING TO KILL ME' flew over New York City.
'Our mothers are burying us way too early,' Holmes said in a statement provided by the gallery. 'My fiancée shouldn't worry every time I'm headed out of the house on my own. Yes, I carry a pistol, Mr. Officer. I carry it to protect myself from you by any means necessary. At some point, you will realise you can't kill us all.'
Chicago-based artist Nick Cave posted a picture on facebook of Kinetic Spinner Forest (2018), made up of 16,000 shimmering, spinning mobiles that reveal themselves to be extruded from the silhouettes of pistols, bullets and tears. The work appeared in the exhibition UNTIL, a reference to the presumption of innocence, at Sydney's Carriageworks in 2018.
Los Angeles-based artist Shepard Fairey, perhaps best known for his Hope poster in support of Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, shared an image of his artwork Bias By Numbers (2019), a portrait that includes newspaper headlines finding black Americans account for 76% of stops in which the police used force.
'My way of coping when too many people seem indifferent, has been to make images spotlighting these issues and injustices,' Fairey wrote on his website. 'I use these images to donate to organizations like Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Equal Justice Initiative, and #Cut50, all of which do critical work on the social justice front lines.'
Other prominent artists who have addressed violence against African Americans in their work include Mark Bradford, who put a bodycam at the centre of his 20-foot billboard Life Size (2019), and Kehinde Wiley, who told NPR that his project of painting portraits of black Americans in the style of Old Masters paintings of European elites 'comes out of a sense of vulnerability'. —[O]
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