At Large  June 2, 2020  Chandra Noyes

Artists Honor George Floyd

flickr/Lorie Shaull

The George Floyd Memorial outside Cup Foods at Chicago Ave and E 38th St in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As protests surrounding the death of George Floyd have erupted across the US and around the world, artists have joined their voices in the call to honor his life, put an end to systemic racism, and stop police violence in communities of color.

Beginning at the site of his arrest, outside of Cup Foods at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, murals and graffiti have sprung up around the world up, honoring Floyd's life and value by repeating his name. Greta McLain, Xena Goldman, and Cadex Herrera painted the first memorial mural, which is now a site for communal grieving and protest.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by James (@jamescreat8) on

This mural in the Houston neighborhood where Floyd grew up shows him with a halo made of the words, "Forever breathing in our hearts."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @tonedeezy on

Graffiti in Oakland, California on a boarded up shop front honors George Floyd, calling his death, "the spark that fuels the flames."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by chhoysho_acre (ছয়শো একর) (@chhoysho_acre) on

In Syria, a country that is no stranger to the callous destruction of human life, graffiti calls to honor Floyd and for an end to racism.

flickr/Magnus Hagdorn

Graffiti in Edinburgh, Scotland, immortalizes Floyd.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by shirien (@shirien.creates) on

While many of us are still spending most of our time at home and are unable to see street memorials in person, digital tributes have filled social media. Though today many social media accounts are participating in #blackouttuesday, artists on Instagram have shared powerful portraits of Floyd, a father of two who was 46 at the time of his death.

Shirien Damra's colorful, bold portrait of Floyd shows him at rest, surrounded by flowers. The image has been shared and liked millions of times on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nikkolas Smith (@nikkolas_smith) on

Like Damra, artist Nikkolas Smith has painted portraits of other Black people killed by senseless violence, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Smith's blurry, expressive strokes bring movement and emotion to Floyd, a man forever stilled.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ray Styles Studios (@penciledcelebrities) on

Ray Styles of @penciledcelebrities immortalizes the moment of Floyd's death, showing Officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd's neck as his spirit leaves his body.

As we look for guidance and a way to express complex emotions in complex times, artists continue to lead the way. By documenting our troubled times, they help us process and understand current events, and leave documentation for future generations. Through the many forms creative expression takes, the voices and visions of artists have the power to both soothe us and inflame our passions.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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