I had planned on utilizing my blog to go in depth about much of the art and design stuff I'll be working on, and just recently I've gotten a few inquiries about the meaning of my submission for the City Of Ink's "ENOUGH IZ ENOUGH!: Artists United Against Police Brutality" Art Exhibit this pass Friday. So here we go with progression photos and details! Enjoy!
"I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE" was inspired by a powerful photo from a series my homegirl TT Coles is working on. It was a Monday, a few days before the show and I hadn't locked in on a concept yet. I've been dwelling on pieces like this for 17 years! (since Rodney King and the L.A. Uprising) And as usual, there's so much to say in regards to the topic, so I wasn't clear on what stance or position to take with my piece. So, browsing Facebook, I noticed a new album uploaded by TT and one of the photos stood out instantly! Not only did the photo stand out, but the title and concept was there with it. So I called up TT and asked her for the images she had for that particular reference shot and she promptly emailed me what I needed to get started.
So after seeing the photo, the title came to mind. Even still, I wasn't sure on all i was going to try to say in such a short period of time. It was late Monday night and I had to have the piece done in a couple days. I tried to keep it simple, but my mind wouldn't allow for it. So I just went with the flow. And as I began to draw, create and paint, the message was further revealed to me. "I Pledge Allegiance" would be a tribute to the victims of police brutality, and give honor to those who have become political prisoners or lost their lives fighting in this struggle.
So the sista represents the foundation of the Black community. She is the mother of all of this we know as civilization. She represents Africa, the beginning. Her hand over her heart is her pledging allegiance to her community, those who've struggled and died, and to the continuation of this struggle. She's wearing a halo because she is a souljah sent by God to properly guide His children during these oppressive times. I'm also VERY big on angels (i have 5 of them tatted on me with more to go!). I think that some humans are God's earthly angels, me and my crew being a few of them. But in my depiction of angels, the one's with halos represent 360 degrees of perfection. She is the closest thing to God. Her war paint is obvious, the red is for the blood shed, the green is for our land, and the black is for the Almighty people. TT shot the photo this way, but it was very relevant in my concept b/c a phrase from an old Sista Souljah song played in my head, "We are at WAR! Black man where is your army!?!"
I incorporated the names of key people, some of which included: Fred Hampton, Sekou Odinga, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Assata Shakur, Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Michael Pipkens, Katheryn Johnston, Rodney King, Adolph Grimes, Malice Green, Oscar Grant, Eleanor Bumpers, Bunchy Carter, Sean Bell, The Black Panther Party, B.L.A. (Black Liberation Army) and countless others. These names were placed on the piece for two reasons. Reason #1 has been stated above, reason #2 is because during the African Libation ceremony, names of the ancestors are spoken to call on their spirits and energy for guidance. This ritual is more familiar in the hood when brothas and sistas "pour out a little liquor" for a dead homie. This was/is rooted in African culture. So for my piece, I wanted to invoke the spiritual energies of those dead and alive to speak through my piece.
The burning buildings represent the ENOUGH IZ ENOUGH! They represent us being tired of talkin' and walkin'. They represent rebellion. This verse stuck in my mind as I painted this part:
"...we ain't talkin' no mo', we ain't squashin' shit wit po-po, and we ain't marchin' in the middle of the goddamn street 'cause Martin got smoked, niggas ready for war..."
This verse was from Krayzie Bone on Dead Prez's "Walk Like A Warrior" which was on heavy repeat as I painted.
To see the FINAL final version, make your way to City Of Ink Tattoo Shop and Art Gallery to see this and other fine pieces dealing with police brutality. If you're not in the city and would like to see the final, send me a nice comment and/or email and i might just send u a shot ;).
Overall, that's the concept and where I was coming from with this piece. And as always, I don't think it's finished. I'm the hardest critic of my own work. There's always something I think that needs to be done, corrected or fine tuned. I'm trying to learn to let it go since there's so much more to say about so many other things. Besides, the police just beat the shit out of a 15 year old girl. So I guess it's back to the drawing board huh?
"You know who it is, you know what it is...peace out."