American Artist Premieres “Blue Lives” Exhibition 

American Artist (pictured right) and a glimpse of his 2019 work, Blue Life Seminar. / Photo edited by Dylan Kaufman

By Aliyah Jacobson

   American Artist premiered their latest work, “Blue Lives,” for the Graduate Art Student Union on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The riveting and open-minded exhibit kept everyone engaged and intrigued as Artist described the origin of their work. 

   Artist spoke on blue lives, pointing out the mantra behind the police who see themselves as a movement and fraternity. Their slogan “Blue Lives Matter” is disrespectful to the Black Lives Matter movement, Artist explained.  

   The Black Lives Matter movement was formed partly due to the violence that has been afflicted on the Black community by the police and society. The movement has become their rallying cry for justice and the ability to have the same rights that everyone else holds.  

   During the event, Artist shared a quote by Tiana Reid and Anijah Cunningham who they felt reflected their thoughts and the raw emotions that Black people feel when speaking about “Blue Lives Matter,” quoting, “Blue life effectively obscures the violent operations of police power by attempting to give it flesh.”

   Artist also spoke about the fraternity that is the police force, showing pictures of the hard chairs that police officers are forced to sit in during orientation to study. They noted how officers must watch films about policing, with coordinating supervisors drilling into the new recruits that they are “blue” and one with the law. Artist implied that the officers are stripped of their own dignity and individuality to become one with the force of their brotherhood, the police force.

   Artist made a point to reflect on the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the violence that was inflicted on Black people and others marching for justice for Floyd. They spoke of how police locked up their main stations in fear of those marching taking down their workplaces. 

   A sobering thing to note during the summer of 2020 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement was how the museums locked up their heirlooms and collectibles. Artist pointed out how this had to be because they had something to hide. 

   In a conversation between them and Legacy Russell, an activist for the Whitney Museum, Russell noted that one only locks up their valuables in a public museum that is made for the people when they were stolen or taken as booty from slaves.

   As the Whitney Museum locked up all their pieces during the summer of 2020, Artist reflected on this saying, “I wanted to question whether a museum even owns the work it says it does, or if it is, in fact, all stolen and looted property.”

   Artist will continue to show their exhibit to graduate students at Brooklyn College, and their recorded Zoom event will be online for others to see at their leisure on the Graduate Art Student Union page.

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