This is an unconventional portrait of three young black men whose tragic deaths prompted a national conversation around racial profiling, policing, and lethal violence: Trayvon Martin (died February 26, 2012), Michael Brown (died August 9, 2014), and Tamir Rice (died November 22, 2014). Based on private photographs widely published in the aftermaths of their deaths, Kaphar’s drawing outlines their faces in white chalk on asphalt-coated roofing paper, thereby blurring the boundary between representational portrait conventions and common police documentation: the demarcation of victims on the crime scene with chalk outlines. The faces refuse to form a composite portrait, instead insisting upon the particular characteristics that defined each young man, and thus resisting the false—and dangerous—conflation of multiple individuals into a stereotype.
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