The digital portrait series, ‘Justice For Our Lives’, responds to current police killings of marginalized people by producing a portrait of individual victims. I profile prime targets of police violence like black/brown, indigenous, immigrant, LGBTQ, women, and the mentally disabled to make the necessary connections on the intersections of the struggle against racial injustice and prejudice. The designs are set up on my website (www.justiceforourlives.com) for individuals to download and share online, at demonstrations, in classrooms, art galleries, businesses and anywhere else that will promote conversation and action against police brutality and racism. This project aims to serve as a tool for families who have lost loved ones to police violence and are seeking justice. Collaboration with the family members, activists, and organizers ensures that this artwork promotes active engagement in the community that is essential to producing art for social change. The simple black and white portraits are offered as templates to be manipulated and reproduced in any form allowing versatility in the ways these images are inserted into the struggle. In the classroom teachers are able to develop lesson plans using my art as a resource for their students. In art galleries, the viewers are able to engage with each portrait and the story behind them. Versatility and accessibility allows everyone to engage with this project in more than one way.
‘Justice For Our Lives’ was inspired by the rich history of art and political activism in The Bay Area. Since the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant by the Oakland Police Department, the movement towards police accountability prompted artists like Dignidad Rebelde to remind us, with the production of their portrait series, that black & brown people killed by police mattered. Artist John Paul Bail exemplified the power of communal reproduction and sharing political art during public demonstrations like Occupy Oakland. In 2013, responding to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, the global call to end police terrorism on the black community was reignited by the #blacklivesmatter movement founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. As an individual art project, ‘Justice For Our Lives’, has developed from the foundation laid down by the countless artists, activists, and social movements that have emerged out of Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area.
Oree Originol is an artist born on September 11 1984 in Los Angeles, Ca. As a child he discovered his talent in drawing cartoon figures at school and at home. His love for drawing and being surrounded in gang culture encouraged him to develop his skills in graffiti art. With his "originol" style, he got his name up in the streets of LA but it wasn't until 2009 when he moved to The Bay Area that he began to exhibit his artwork in galleries and decided to develop an art career. He began an internship at Pueblo Nuevo Gallery in Berkeley, CA where he exhibited his first solo show, ‘Origin’, and provided the launching pad for his art career. He then joined forces with the artist network CultureStrike on projects supporting migrant rights which taught him the role of art in social activism. On January 1, 2014 he started the ‘Justice For Our Lives’ art project, a portrait design series of people from marginalized communities who have been killed by police. His black and white portraits are set up online for download, printing and dissemination. His designs have been used in public demonstrations worldwide from San Francisco, CA to Paris, France. In the Bay Area, they where used in key demonstrations like the West Oakland BART station shutdown, OPD shut down, Mission Police Station shut down, #sayhername financial district shut down, SuperBowl City disruption, and #reclaimMLK Bay Bridge shut down, and theFrisco 5 hunger strike among countless others. In 2016 he exhibited in the “Take this Hammer” group exhibition at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, was featured as a cover story for the SF Examiner, recognized for the East Bay Express, “Best of the Bay – The Peoples Edition” award, and was featured in a KQED Arts mini documentary. He continues developing his art and activism and sharing his skills with the Bay Area community and beyond.