Needham Bricks For Justice
By the Needham Artists For Black Lives
Needham Bricks For Justice -
Installed Monday, June 22 2020
A Brief Statement About Art:
Before words, we had art. Before civilization as we know it began, we had art. The language of image is one that is universal: to document, study, tell stories, express emotion, and interpret the complex world we live in today.
From the cave paintings in France, dating back to roughly 30,000 B.C.E., the stone mortars and pestles of Oceania created in 1600 B.C.E. - 1500 B.C.E., the traditional body decoration, Takona, of the Rapa Nui (the people of Easter Island), the 1960s murals of political and religious turmoil in Northern Ireland, the 1965 tagging work of “Cornbread” in Philadelphia that sparked and paralleled the graffiti movement that took New York City by storm, the powerful paintings of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, to the stunning portraits of Black men and women painted by Kehinde Wiley, most notably his piece of former president Barack Obama, art has tied together and connected humankind since the beginning of time.
Through the expression of art, we find our voice. Through the projection of our voice, we gain power. Through the continuous use of positive power, we achieve change.
A Brief Statement About the Piece:
(Content warning: reference to the deaths and murders of Black people)
Needham Bricks for Justice is a collective installation to commemorate the lives of Black people unjustly killed by police in the United States. Each name, each face represents a victim of these hateful acts of violence. You’ll notice we have 90 bricks standing in this installation. 90 is the estimated number of Black people killed by police so far in 2020, and the number is growing by the day. The names and faces represented are only a fraction of the long and continuous cycle of police brutality disproportionately affecting Black men, women, and children in this country. Today, Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. In 2015, the year Alton Sterling, Natasha McKenna, Philandro Castile, Samuel DuBose, and many others were murdered at the hands of police officers, the statistic was 2.5 times more likely. This statistic must change. Young Black children should not have to grow up learning how to prevent themselves from being killed by police officers.
The most important work to developing and forming anti-racist people is the work done at home, within our own communities. Needham Bricks for Justice brings together the work and heart of about 20 local artists and activists. For some, protesting is where they find their voice. For others, starting book clubs and initiating online discussions is that space. For each artist involved in this installation, visual art is a powerful and informative platform to personally engage in anti-racist work. We all hope these bricks can speak to those in our community to stand together in support of Black lives, Black futures, Black children, Black justice.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
John F. Kennedy
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr
“Our police force was not created to serve black Americans; it was created to police black Americans and serve white Americans.”