Los Angeles Art Gallery
Los Angeles Art Gallery
All In Due Time
Art Contests Accepted Artists
Baltimore, Maryland USA
Black Lives Matter Flag
In the aftermath of the riots in April 2015 in Baltimore, where I live, I felt that I needed to respond somehow through my artwork. Because of my rage, I feared being shot protesting in the streets. Therefore, I responded by reimagining the structure of the American flag. After much thought I figured out a way to represent how I felt about the meaning of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” I decided to change the stripes from red and white to black and white to symbolize our nation’s major racial divide. I also chose to make the stars “50 shades of black” to represent the variation of skin tones among African Americans and the diversity within that community. Being one of the lighter shades of “black” I also wanted to challenge what “black” means when that word covers such a wide range of color, culture, and identity. In addition to embedding the phrase “Black Lives Matter!” I integrated the names of 192 African-American women and men, past and present, into the stripes of the flag.
The red names are of those who police killed or were assassinated before they could fully live their lives. The black and white names commemorate those who have made their mark in a wide variety of ways. The red names in the center form a large Y symbolizing three things: the question “Why” is this still happening?, the gesture “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and the declaration “Why Black Lives Matter!” Just below the “V” is the only Caucasian who merited being put on the flag. Abraham Lincoln was the first president who, over 150 years ago, decided that black lives mattered by freeing the slaves and was assassinated as a result. The flag’s design both asserts that black lives matter and names those whose lives have deeply mattered in US culture along with those whose lives have been tragically cut short. This juxtaposition provokes the question: What could have Tamir Rice, and others like him, contributed had they been given the chance to live their lives? All in due time must be now.
I believe that the racism at the foundation of the Civil War of the 1860s was never resolved. And the goals of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s were never completed. So here we are today still dealing with some failures of both. Now with so many supporting the Black Lives Matter movement we have a chance for meaningful change for a better future for African Americans, which I believe is fundamentally better for the future of all people in the US. I have reimagined an American flag that not only I can believe in but also I hope can inspire a meaningful dialogue and vision about how we can make the US a safer place for all its citizens to live out their lives fully.
The views expressed by our artists in their artist statements do not necessarily represent the views of our art galleries. Artists can be visually expressive but may verbally misrepresent their true intentions or ideas. Please note that we support expression, whether it is controversial or not, but our intention is never to offend.
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