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As Shield

Compositions using photographs of graffiti at the statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 following the death of George Floyd on May 25.

This series uses the graffiti and re-forms it to suggest African tribal shields. In practice, shields were often imbued with herbal compounds to protect against harm. Expanding on the VOICES project, these works connect the ideas of free expression and protection from injustice.

To look closely and deeply into the graffiti reveals an abstract energy that evokes the hand and heart of each artist who broke their silence and spoke out in communal outpouring. It beckons us all to do the same, praying that this time it will be different.

“Your silence will not protect you”
 — Audre Lorde

The granite pedestal that hoisted the statue of a Civil War general sixty feet into the air became the canvas for passionate expressions of protest and healing through the medium of graffiti. New graffiti was added daily throughout the summer – painted, sprayed, splattered, stenciled, pasted – until it was a singular work of art on its own; the voices of hundreds speaking out.

In October, 2020, New York Times Magazine named the Robert E. Lee Statue in Richmond the #1 Most Influential Work of American Protest Art Since World War II. In December that year it became the cover photo for ARTFORUM Magazine.









Jere Kittle © copyright 2023, all rights reserved