GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An ArtPrize artist whose work now graces the Jurors’ Shortlist said she’s turned her feelings of hopelessness into an opportunity to make change.
The controversial deaths of several black citizens at the hands of police resulted in an eruption of protests nationwide and hit artist Le’Andra LeSeur hard.
“I went through a period of time where I felt like there was nothing I could really do,” she told 24 Hour News 8 via Skype.
The New Jersey-based artist told 24 Hour News 8 her pain is what made her decide to begin “Searching,” a two-part ArtPrize video entry that made the ArtPrize Jurors’ Shortlist.
The videos she created were her way of coping, especially following many of the officers being cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Those killings led to verdicts that were basically just letting people off who killed young black Americans who were actually innocent,” LeSeur said.
Her piece can be found inside The Fed Gallery at Kendall College of Art of Design.
One video deals with a lot of the deadly officer-involved incidents; the other explores the adversity many minority women face.
Rallies focused on racial discrimination became a familiar sight following incidents like the deadly shooting of Trayvon Martin, the police chokehold that killed
Eric Garner, and the close-range shooting that took Alton Sterling’s life.
The last death happened on LeSeur’s birthday.
“I remember waking up and just the videos of him being shot, and that was very traumatic for me,” she recalled.
“Alton Sterling – he was just selling CDs on the side of the road I see that every day walking through like downtown Manhattan or even through Harlem,” she added.
It was traumatic for her to produce the piece, which explores several deadly run-ins with police, including one that stained her conscience ever since she was 9 years old.
Making the ArtPrize Jurors’ Shortlist brought LeSeur to tears as she tackles these heavy topics. She said that her goal is to spread empathy and awareness.