BY JAMIE MALESZKA
It’s been said that the role of the artist is to not look away. That despite the darkness, the all-too-often chaos, they are called to stay, to stand—to bear witness. And when our future’s tomorrow inevitably arrives, theirs is the work that will testify to our days and ways. This is who we were.
Oree Originol, like many whose creative practice is steeped in the rich history of art as an agent of change, is propelled forward in pursuit of justice. The Bay Area-based artist—primarily a painter, but also established in the realms of printing and digital media—was inspired to create the Justice For Our Lives project. The impactful portrait series eulogizes those individuals from marginalized communities killed by police.
The simple graphic rendering of 50 “ancestors,” as Originol refers to them—Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice among them—are readily available online for anyone to download and make their own. Thus, given true breath by the people, the Justice For Our Lives portraits have appeared on protest posters marched down the avenues of nearly every major U.S. city, on banners hoisted on courthouse steps, on T-shirts, and wheatpasted on to walls.
The project fights to ensure that the contours of each individual life lived, and cruelly lost, are not forgotten. It combats the dismissing of murder while Black, Brown, trans, undocumented, or mentally disabled into some bogus category of dispensable other. Instead, it affirms. It ignites. This is who we are.
We caught up with Oree Originol to learn more......