I'll be honest and say when I first took a photo of Navi doing a handstand in front of my
painting, I didn't have a concept for a photo series in mind. I just thought, this would be an ill
shot. The piece had been newly painted and Ivan was loosening up before he got into training
mode. When he did it l, I had to get a shot.
The Story of the painting it's self.
60in x 48in x 1in
oil on canvas
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Walter Scott had just been shot in the back and killed, a string of unarmed black men had shot in the back. And Eric Harris, who had been shot was suffocating saying words we heard before.... “I CAN'T BREATHE!!!”. Only to be met with the response … “Fuck your breath”. Eric Harris dies... his murderer.... Walter Scott's murderer... the murdered of the unarmed being... all Law Enforcement. I became so furious, I wanted to send message that American I got it, I understand what it is now. Originally I titled this “FuckYOUrBreath” only changing it about discussing this piece with a friend and Lupe Fiasco's “American Terrorist” began to play. I wanted to make it clear what we were dealing with, what I felt we were dealing with. America had said fuck you, its open season and any and every reason is okay to shoot. The subject is shackled and put on America's shopping black, Lady Justice doesn't rock with us. I used the concept of Kunta getting his foot cut off for running of the plantation as a way to describe how we are handicapped because are past sins (parking tickets, smoking weed, being black) will be brought to trial even after death. Because one thing had been very consistent, dead unarmed blacks always go to trial not their killers.
Not to long after I found myself taking shots here and there of people 'in-the-moment" near my
painting. It wasn't till after recording an podcast when I asked Eli if I could take his photo and he
asked why, that I realized what I was doing. Similar to the Humans of New York photo blog, I
wanted to capture subjects. I wanted to present who America deems the terrorist. The
unarmed, the everyday people of color.... But I wanted to show they are more than everyday.
They are amazing, gifted, loving... One of the things I intend to do at the end is to make
paintings based on some of/ if not all the photos. I'm planning on doing a few more... But here
are the first few I've done. I've been using the hashtag #IVOAT on social media for myself to kinda keep the project contained.
"And he stands"
"It's like I turned on the TV,this is what I see" - Artist/Photographer Visualist response to my "AmeriKKKan Terrorist" piece.
"The clear perspective of my people unveiled"
"For my Kings" by ZoetryAn excerpt from Pleasant City: Thee Choreopoem
"There are times when the pressures of this world get so thick you get lost in it/You can tell by the aggression in your facial expression/ and the ill intent in your posture/ and there's no way of concealin' it/Especially on the days when your sense of being in touch has taken a vacay/ and you just ain't feelin' it/ so you fill your lungs with a mother's nature/ and your liver with the finest liquor/ an elixir/ that seems to be the proven formula for numbing the pain quicker/ and go figure/ you're not one for excuses but they sure make it seem that way/ like you're just conjuring all this shit up, the system isn't built that way/ you just don't fit that way/ so you make your adjustments/ blend into their customs/ bottling your emotions 'cuz it's never cool to discuss'em/ DAMN!/ how does one hold such weight?/ I'm here to tell you my brother that I can relate/ many of us can/ but understand/ God gives His biggest battles to His toughest soldiers/ so hold your head high and walk into your purpose/ never mind those who judge by what they see on the surface/ don't let that serve as a hindrance/ 'cuz the God inside you smirks at that type of ignorance/ you are magnificent/ and no one can define you except you/ but you must first accept you/ and take your failures as lessons/ and your accomplishments as blessins'/ cuz this life journey wasn't made to be easy trust and believe me/ but you are a powerful being with no limits/ from a strong lineage/ so make your own impact and create your own image/ and never let fear get in the way of your own greatness/ instead pursue it with every ounce off you/ 'cuz try as they may to break you/ they can never take your soul away from you/ Do you hear me?" -Zoetry
When asked what he thought... Eli took time starring, analyzing the painting. And with a heaviness in his voice keeps it simple and powerful... "Justice... has been determined"
Kalimba outshine the sun with her grace today. With the warmest smile full of joy she says "This is my personal affirmation of who I am. So, I am Love....I am Loved.... I am Loving.... and I am therefore... Lovable. I AM LOVE. And am Loved!"
"Being able to express myself means I'm doing my part to forward the work of my ancestors and the work of God. What I was sent here to do! We spend a lot of time not being able to express anything openly aside from pain, which even had to be masked. But now that I can express my joy... my pain... my frustration... my understanding... my hopes... my dreams through song and through movement and music.... makes ME feel like I'm part of the solution to some of the problems in the world." - Vanya