Based in Pittsburgh, Devan Shimoyama received his MFA in Painting/Printmaking in 2014 and has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. His typically grand-scale artworks explore beauty, humanity, queerness and Black identity. Glitzy and glamorous artworks often come from a place of “cathartic personal healing.”
“To be showered in roses is more celebratory than to be showered in tears.”
The full-size swing set at the center of Untitled (For Tamir) is dedicated to Tamir Rice. Tamir was fatally shot by a police officer at 12 years old while playing in a park near his home in Cleveland, OH in 2014. The swing set seats do not invite play, but are frozen in time as a memorial, laden with the faux flowers that we might leave at the site of loss or tragedy.
Born in 1989, Shimoyama’s adult life has been marked by these extremely public lynchings of Black adults and children. At least 135 unarmed Black people were killed by police between 2015 and the end of 2020 alone. Seeking a way to process this collective trauma and remember the individual life that was lost, Shimoyama showers Tamir in flowers, surrounded by glittering teardrops. He creates an “anchor to reality without [presenting Black bodies in pain].” By creating this permanent memorial, Shimoyama creates a place away from the site itself where we can continue to pay tribute to Tamir nearly a decade after this event.
This exhibition includes audio engagement as part of the Artists as Activists audio tour, narrated by Sharon Bryant. Visitors to the Museum can access the tour using their own mobile devices, or borrow a GuideID listening device at the Admission desk.
Sharon Bryant is associate professor at the Decker College of health sciences at Binghamton University, and ongoing partner with The Rockwell Museum’s Artists as Activists program.
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