I’ve been quite impressed with police riot fashion. It seems to be a cross between Darth Vader and giant murder hornets, don’t you think? When I got done with the drawing I realized that I left off a lot of things – walkie talkie, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, a rifle that shoots the rubber bullets, and those plastic ties they use when they arrest people. Did I leave out anything?
I’ve been pouring over images of demonstrations around the country and world, sharing in the grief, anger, and solidarity of this grass roots movement demanding the end of police brutality. As a visual artist I have been looking for new ways to draw the winds of change.
I simply don’t know how to do a sketch of a scene like the one above, a demonstration in Santa Rosa, California, live. So I decided to practice, to be ready to sketch again live when I might have figured it out. So I put the pen to paper and kept it moving, not concerning myself with accuracy. I was ready to toss the results, or hide them, but then I liked the energy of it. I liked the squiggly lines and getting to use my various marking pens, and not worrying about perspective and shadow shapes and such. I could feel the energy of the crowd and it was liberating (art-wise at least)!
This picture evolved after spending almost an hour scrolling through pictures and articles from around the country which were posted in the New York Times on line issue. I started with the speaker in the middle and kept adding on until I filled enough of the picture space. And all the time imagining what it was like to be a young demonstrator face down in a park full of hundreds of others, enacting the experience of George Floyd under the knee of a cop, unable to breathe for over eight minutes.