Art Responders

CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

COPS, COLOR AND CASUALTIES

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"Cops, Color and Casualties is an immersive multimedia exhibition featuring artists' responses to police brutality THROUGH the past quarter century. Using visual art, music, video, and games and virtual reality, the show delves into the cases and causes ofexcessive force in U.S. law enforcement, targeting culturally underserved communities of color most affected by the elements of our criminal justice system that allow this phenomenon to continue.  Framed around a graphic timeline and using extensive text and data visualizations, CCC (formerly VIRAL: RK25) tells the story of this ongoing American tragedy through more than 100 works by over 50 U.S. artists, inspiring a deeper understanding of the complex layers underlying the issue, and inspiring concrete action to create a future without fear of law enforcement.  
VIRAL:RK25 launched in Venice, California, at the Social and Public Art Resource Center’s (SPARC) Duron Gallery in April of 2016.  One of L.A.’s most respected non-profit galleries, the space is housed within the Old Venice Jail, and still features  pre-existing structures, including a holding cell.  As part of the exhibition’s programming, a speaker’s panel, “Voices for Change”, was held at veteran L.A. literary venue Beyond Baroque, featuring Black Lives Matter activist Shamell Bell, an original member of the #blacklivesmatter movement and a core organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles; Dr. Aquil Basheer, founder of The Professional Community Intervention Training Institute and the BUILD Youth Empowerment Academy based in Los Angeles, CA; and exhibition advisor Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA.  
The exhibition then traveled to Oakland's award-winning Betti Ono Gallery for in fall of 2016, adding extended youth and community programming including a Youth Fellowship, an all-day Youth Summit featuring a Know Your Rights workshop, and an anniversary celebration/ day of action.  
In spring of 2017, the exhibition's concepts and aims were extended through ANTIVIRAL: Countdown to Restorative Justice, a six-day event series honoring the lives lost and implementing principles of truth-telling, collaboration and envisioning a future without fear of law enforcement.  See ANTIVIRAL page for more information.
 
 
For the Oakland exhibition, five youth local fellows, juniors and seniors from local high schools, committed four hours per week to participate in the show, including education, docent training, outreach, and event planning. Here youth fellow Celeste reflects on her response to the show's sidebars.