This Artist Wanted These Images To Spark Conversations. So He Captured His Friends In Mugshots.

'We are more than what the media portrays us to be.'

Ej Brown had grown disappointed, to say the least, with incidents leading to the deaths of Black men such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Walter Scott

Whether the deaths were to police brutality or other perceived racially charged incidents, he grew more discouraged. 

Brown's frustrations were fueled by the loss of these men, but also the coverage of the men in the media aftermath that he believed painted them less favorably. 

Brown, a Baltimore native, is a recent graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh. He was disturbed by what he perceived to be a difference in the news coverage surrounding a White man named James Holmes. 

Holmes is currently on trial, with the potential for the death penalty, for opening fire in a Colorado movie theater that left 12 people dead and others injured. 

In Brown's opinion, the media painted Holmes in a well-rounded manner that shed light on his other qualities, despite the nature of the incident. 

Fast forward three years, Scott of North Carolina was seen in a video, running away from an officer, who fired shots to his back. 

"Walter Scott was the incident where I got depressed," he told A Plus.


He was inspired.

Brown called his dad following Scott's death to say he feared his dad "making a news headline." 

Aimed to change the way the media portrays Black men, he gathered his friends in his last semester at Point Park and photographed them wearing his personal cap and gown. 

"They were immediately receptive to the project," he told A Plus. 

The cap and gown, Brown explained, is representative of his narrative as a college student at the time. 

His project, "Perception of Complexion" depicted his friends as college graduates in mugshots. They held up placards that read messages like, "Charge: Int'l Marketing." 

"When it comes to art, if you react to it, then the job has been done," Brown explained to A Plus. 

Brown and his friends received a lot of reactions to one sign held by Ryan Johnson that read "engerneering." He explained that engineering was purposefully spelled incorrectly to represent the idea that there's often incorrect information given out to the public. 

Brown's project stirred a lot of buzz and certainly sparked a lot of conversations. He's looking to move to L.A., but feels inspired to continue the work behind the message of his project. 

"Now we have a platform where we can make a difference."

Check out the "Perception of Complexion" project here.

Cover photo courtesy of Perception of Complexion.


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