A powerful portrait series of Black Americans killed by police that uses time as a visual medium

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Adrian Brandon is a Seattle-raised and Brooklyn-based visual artist, whose “Stolen” collection was originally displayed at his first public solo show in November 2019 at 263 Bowery in New York. It’s stunning visual art project both in its concept, and its execution. I’ll allow the artist to explain:

This series is dedicated to the many black people that were robbed of their lives at the hands of the police. In addition to using markers and pencil, I use time as a medium to define how long each portrait is colored in. 1 year of life = 1 minute of color. Tamir Rice was 12 when he was murdered, so I colored his portrait for 12 minutes. As a person of color, I know that my future can be stolen from me if I’m driving with a broken taillight, or playing my music too loud, or reaching for my phone at the wrong time. So for each of these portraits I played with the harsh relationship between time and death. I want the viewer to see how much empty space is left in these lives, stories that will never be told, space that can never be filled. This emptiness represents holes in their families and our community, who will be forever stuck with the question, “who were they becoming?” This series touches on grief and the unknown.

Brandon’s pen-and-ink work is phenomenal. But when you see how much — or how little — color art is added to the lives of these people of color, it really drives the point home.

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George Floyd. 46 years old, 46 minutes of color. Graphite and ink. A reminder for Black people: do what you need to do to take care of your mental. Break something, build something, do nothing, log off, let it out. "Being strong" doesn't mean bottle it up. For me, setting time aside for each portrait in Stolen is healing in a way. Just a bit of time for me to be with George Floyd. A man I never knew but is so familiar. #georgefloyd #justiceforfloyd #justiceforbigfloyd #blacklivesmatter #blackart #minneapolis #sayhisname

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on May 29, 2020 at 7:30am PDT

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Yes, the officer was charged with murder. No, that is not justice. 🌹 Rayshard Brooks

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on Jun 17, 2020 at 4:05pm PDT

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I'm $900 from reaching my goal for this show. Please, if you're able to do so, donating any amount is greatly appreciated. The show will feature ~50 stories similar to Marzues Scott. Donations will help allow this important conversation to carry on in a new form–hopefully sparking the fire for real change to come. Please follow the link and spread it to those who also support this fight. https://www.gofundme.com/stolenartshow 🌹 #blackartist #blacklivesmatter #handsupdontshoot #icantbreathe #blackart #supportblackart #brooklynart #brooklyn #newyork

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on Sep 22, 2019 at 8:14pm PDT

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If the stories of Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and so many more hit you on another level, then come through to my show. It's free. It's of the time. And it's so important to remember these stories. RSVP with the link in bio 🆎

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on Oct 30, 2019 at 8:05pm PDT

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Breonna Taylor. 26 years old, 26 minutes of color. A lot to say but really don't feel like talking. #breonnataylor #justiceforbre #justiceforbreonnataylor #sayhername #sayhisname #blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd #nypd #nojusticenopeace #blackart #policebrutality

A post shared by Adrian Brandon (@ayy.bee) on May 31, 2020 at 9:04am PDT



These process videos sums the project up pretty well, but you can view the whole completed 27-piece collection here. And unfortunately, Brandon is still adding new portraits. As he told Colossal:

Although this anxiety may seem minor in that the consequences for me are very low, it does really have an effect on me. Anxiety is a feeling that black people are far too familiar with, and to experience that feeling while illustrating these portraits allows each piece to feel like a performance. A lot of Black people are forced to live with this anxiety and accept it as part of our every day. But these feelings build up and are exhausting. I shouldn’t have to do a prayer every time I see police pursuing a Black person in the streets. I shouldn’t feel anxious when the police are talking to a person of color. I shouldn’t feel so damn anxious that I remove my hat and jewelry when the cops pull me over. I shouldn’t feel so anxious that I would second guess calling the police if I ever needed to. This series is pulling me in, in ways that art has never done.

“Stolen” [Adrian Brandon]

How Artist Adrian Brandon’s Life Has Changed Since Viola Davis Posted His Work [Meg Zukin / Variety]




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