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Jammie Holmes
Artwork by Jammie Holmes

Artist Jammie Holmes creates sky banners to honour George Floyd

The American artist hired planes to fly banners over five cities during the weekend’s protests with Floyd’s heartbreaking words

On Monday 25 May, George Floyd was killed by a white police officer. Some of his last words were: “They’re going to kill me”.

Floyd’s death is the flash point for hundreds of years of white oppression and police brutality which has unjustly targeted and murdered innocent Black people.

As protests swelled in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Detroit on 30 May, American artist Jammie Holmes hired planes to fly over the cities, bearing banners with Floyd’s heartbreaking words on them.

Originally from Thibodaux, Louisiana, Holmes’ art focusses on telling stories about Black life in America’s south. He uses portraiture and tableaux to speak on everyday struggles and experiences that provide a “counterpoint to the romantic mythology of Louisiana as a hub of charming hospitality”.

Holmes released a full statement on his website which detailed his intentions for the artworks.

“This presentation is an act of social conscience and protest meant to bring people together in their shared incense at the inhumane treatment of American citizens. The deployment of Floyd’s last words in parts of its whole across the country underlines a need for unity and the conviction that what happened to George Floyd is happening all over America. An enduring culture of fear and hateful discrimination has only increased in its intensity since 2018, and a critical mass will no longer allow it to be ignored. 

“With this demonstration, I hope that people across the United States will use the outlets available to them to continue to demand change. The use of sky media to recount Floyd’s final words presents a contrast to the noise of digital media and employs a form of communication that is most often used by the privileged to announce sporting events, marriage proposals, or promote consumption. It is rarely used for political or social purposes - to exercise free speech - because it is an outlet unavailable to the poor and marginalized. I hope that people will be reminded of the power we can have to be heard and that coming together behind a unified message is key for real change. 

“Like countless silenced and fearful young black men, I have been the victim of police misconduct on a number of occasions in my life. At some point, they will realize they can’t kill us all.”

I hope that people across the United States will use the outlets available to them to continue to demand change. Please sign petitions to support the families of the latest victims in their pursuit of justice, and donate what you can.

Thank you to my gallery, Library Street Collective, for their generous support.”