The news has been tragically dominated by stories of black Americans whose lives have been cut short due to police brutality. As the public learns, says, and remembers their names, the ever-present question hangs in the air: who might they have been if they were still alive today?
Artist Adrian Brandon asks this very question in his “Stolen” series. Brandon started the series in 2019 with a portrait of Alton Sterling and recently revisited it in light of the recent deaths of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The artist started off the series using pencil to outline the portraits and marker to color them in — but only for one minute per year of each victim’s life. Because Sterling was 37 when he died, Brandon spent 37 minutes adding color to his portrait… and many others required far less time to color.
The message is poignant and in-your-face. Just as the portraits themselves look incomplete, the subjects had so much more life to live. The blank space in Brandon’s creations is a sobering reminder of the work we have to do to fix the police system in the United States, and if the art makes you uncomfortable, it’s doing what it was designed to do.
Check out some of the pieces from the project below:
1. Alton Sterling, 37 years old. 6/14/1979 – 7/5/2016
2. Stephon Clark, 22 years old. 8/10/95 – 3/18/18
3. Chad Robertson, 25 years old. Shot on Feb. 8th, 2017 and died one week later
4. Jemel Roberson, 26 years old. 4/4/92 – 11/11/18
5. Sandra Bland, 28 years old. 2/7/87 – 7/13/15
6. Jordan Edwards, 15 years old. Shot sitting in the passenger seat while leaving a house party with his brother
7. Natasha McKenna, 37 years old. Died Feb. 8th in police custody
8. Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, 21 years old. Shot in the back three times at a mall on Nov. 22, 2018
9. Tamir Rice, 12 years old
10. Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7 years old
11. John Crawford III, 22 years old. Killed inside a Walmart while holding a BB gun
12. George Floyd, 46 years old
13. Breonna Taylor. 26 years old
14. Eric Garner. 43 years old
15. Atatiana Jefferson. 28 years old