March 23 – June 30, 2023

Rinse & Repeat: Shawn Beeks Draws from the Goodman Collection

Engaging with the recent acquisitions of Civil Rights Era photographs from the Goodman Collection, Shawn Beeks draws a series of cartoons from selected photographs that stirred his imagination as well as a slew of emotions. The combination of his immaculate line drawings and satirical tone make a poignant political platform from which Beeks critiques the perpetual presence of racism in the United States.

drawing of hands and mic

Drawing by Shawn Beeks

Rinse & Repeat: An Ongoing Story of Systemic Objectification by Shawn Beeks

Growing up black in America, I’ve always known the dangers of encounters with police officers. Lessons from my parents on engaging with law enforcement and staying safe by “doing the right thing” and “speaking to them with respect” wasn’t just part of learning to drive, but a much larger part of survival. My parents witnessed the civil rights era of the 1950s and 60s in ways that most Americans didn’t, simply by being black in North and South Carolina. When the Black Lives Matter protest started in 2013 in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, I didn’t expect anything to change. It took almost 10 years and constant media coverage of black lives being lost at the hands, knees, and guns of police officers, in addition to a labor-ending pandemic, for people to pay attention to what had been happening for centuries. Color is viewed as a stain in America.

While finishing the ten paintings in Rinse & Repeat, I realized the relationship between public awareness, perception, and response to violence in America is heavily influenced by frequency, repetition, and distance. Americans did not feel the impact of the Vietnam War until it was broadcast into their living rooms through evening news programs while they ate family dinners. There had been safety in the lack of moving sights and sounds that newspapers could not supply. The bodies spoken about could be objects, and someone else’s son, someone else’s problem. Once those bodies were given life through moving pictures and audible voices, they ceased to be abstract distractions and became people who looked familiar.
The key is familiarity. As long as violence continues to be used to attack and suppress the self-recognition of value, the color will continue to be erased until the page is white.

About Shawn Beeks
Shawn Beeks, the youngest son of college graduates from the Carolinas, grew up outside of Washington D.C. consuming beltway politics and skateboarding subculture of the 80s and 90s. Currently based in Philadelphia, PA, Shawn has been prolific in his production of narrative fine art and skateboard art since 1996. His ink drawings, oil paintings skateboard products, and commissioned work have been sold and exhibited in galleries, museums, and core shops across the United States and England. Shawn continues to evolve as an artist, injecting expressive mark-making and humor into the unforgiving and rigid subject matter.