How Jordan Peele’s Get Out Has Inspired Visual Artists
WORDS BY: AMANI JAMES | LEAD IMAGE COURTESY OF VANITY FAIR
The story of racism in America is often portrayed with slavery historical black figures or white saviors—think Birth of A Nation and 12 Years A Slave—that is only a memory of the oppression experienced today. Jordan Peele’s Get Out, however, tells the African-American story in a different, more relatable way and that’s why its receiving so many accolades. Unlike the obvious period pieces, Jordan chooses to combine metaphorical storytelling and satire to tell the American minority’s story and his truth.
The jokes in Get Out hit hard, and the “sunken place” metaphors hit even harder. Get Out was different, and it worked, but it’s tie into the black creative community was bigger than record-breaking box office sales. That’s why in an effort to promote the filmmaker’s haunting take on racism, he and Universal commissioned a group of artists—black artists—to create work based on the movie.
Although black creatives are very prevalent today, as we have had the opportunity to push beyond our racial boundaries, the art community has been a harder obstacle to overcome. Jordan told Vanity Fair in an interview, “I think there’s been a lack of representation of our experience, of our voice, of our skin,” he said. Black artists have had to develop their own circles and communities in order to produce work within a very white-washed industry, forced to compete against the Keith Harings of the world. So that is just what Jordan did—he pulled talent from his community and commissioned them to make art inspired by the film.
Here are just three of our favorite pieces to come from the commission:
Brooklyn artist, Sindiso Nyoni, who is known for his breathtaking and thought provoking print pieces, would create a haunting print of one of the most symbolic characters of the film, the gardener In one of his encounters with Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya), the gardener would say to Chris, “They treat us like family.” Sisdiso places those words next to what looks like a hypnotized face of the gardener. This piece presents the brain-washed black man, whose only goal is to not be singled out based on the color of his skin, in his most vulnerable form.
Frank Morrison’s piece is equally haunting. The oil painting portrays one of the most symbolic characters of the entire movie to the piece, Georgiana. In the piece, Georgiana’s often distraught and “mindless” appearance is captured as she walks by holding what seems to be food on a platter, while walking past the missing photos of the men who have been held captive by white culture.
One of the most unsettling pieces commissioned by Peele and Universal Studios is a piece from artist, Jermaine Rogers. The Armitage family stands beyond Chris, as he holds a blackface mask up to his face, peeking out behind it in fear. This piece, contributes to the puppet narrative of the black man. Chris’s fear is apparent in the piece, the mask symbolizing the skin created to hide African-Americans constant fear of not being accepted. The constant waiting for the next unnecessary comment, racial profiling, or horrific video of a black man’s killing. Rogers’ ability to capture in his work is due to his own understand as a black man.