Ramarley Graham was an unarmed Black teenager (just 18) shot to death in his grandmother’s home by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in February 2012.
From my series Collective Memory (2012-ongoing):
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager killed by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in February 2012, is another one in a long history of state-sanctioned violence against black men and women. In response to these deaths, I began to create simple pen-and-ink illustrations on vellum of black men and women who have died under similar circumstances in the United States.
I created these illustrations by tracing photos of the victims that were provided by their families to media outlets. I hand wrote everyone’s names below their faces. I want to draw attention to these cases because, aside from a few people such as Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant and Sean Bell in the past three to four years, these kinds of stories often do not garner much media attention.
By placing these fragile pieces and wall text that shows what it is like to be under constant suspicion, I want to bring these stories to the forefront of people’s minds, to start asking themselves questions about what happened to these people and why.
Although my primary medium is photography, I chose to illustrate to bring back a sense of immediacy and intimacy that, for the purposes of this project, would be best achieved through hand-drawn illustrations and hand-written text, especially in a time when everything is digital, transmitted through a series of 1s and 0s and handmade materials are increasingly rare.