Why did you pick this picture?
I chose this picture as it it relevant to times in which we live. We are in an era where police misconduct via brutality and shootings of unarmed citizens is at the forefront of the minds of most African- Americans citizens. Even with a violent crime in cities and across the nation there is a notion of betrayal by police force warned her serve and protect. Further police act under the “Color of Law.” Thus, the police are recognized as the police and possibly a villain by minority communities. The police represent life-saving authority and life taking actions. It is the confusion of the roles that distorts the view of police especially in minority communities.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea was sparked by the unrest of the Freddy gray case in Baltimore. I live in Baltimore and I was in the middle of the civil unrest. The voices were coming to me from my television,my radio and from my parents and peers. The message painted of police actions led to this composite of a confused- maybe distorted- maybe accurate view of policing and urban America.
What does this mean to you?
The art is a powerful picture from me. It expresses my uncertainty and clarity about the role of policing in America when it involves Black people and other minorities. I am at the point where I fear both the cops and robbers and often cannot tell the difference. It is an awful and artful state of mind so I painted what I felt and feel and see. In the end when the Department of Justice investigated the Baltimore City Police Department they came to some of the same conclusions A confused stat of Blue and Black. They put it in words and I painted it.
What can you tell us about yourself?
I am very sensitive to the plight of all people and especially African-Americans. I understand the confusion and disorientation of navigating the American dream in the midst of what is sometimes an American nightmare. I feel the anxiety of wanting a safe environment in which to pursue success and my art and yet I feel trapped by the art given to me by my environment and circumstances. I have traveled and seen landscapes that I wish to paint but the most poignant landscape is the one that I hear of and see and experience from friends, family and the view outside my inner-city doorway and window. I am a visual person and I paint what I feel and see despite my desire to paint what I want all of the world to see and experience. I hope for the day when I have only beautiful things to paint but I paint in a day and in a way that lets me know that we have a long way to go.
What more can you tell us about your art?
As indicated above the art asks the question Cops or Robbers- the protectors of the American Dream or robbers of the dreams. How one sees it probably depends on where one stands physically, mentally, psychologically and socially. For those that know the Cop/robber picture makes complete sense but creates the emotion of fear. Their are no pupils so the viewer can add their eyes from the inside out or outside in. View the world from the cop that believe that she/he must be a type of bandit to control the violence-or the view from the citizen-especially minorities that can no longer tell the difference between cops and robbers. The flag representing land of the free and home of the brave twisted maybe for some into a bandana of a pirate or robber. There are numerous stories in the art.
To see more of just_tyra_’s art please follow the link below to see their instgram page