Art is weird, man, and the piece garnering headlines that is a study based on the mugshot of George Zimmerman widely circulated throughout the Trayvon Martin media firestorm is a recent example.
It’s true, Zimmerman has slimmed down considerably since his last arrest and looks quite different from the man whose image is rendered in a Skittle mosaic, but the piece has drawn attention nonetheless in no small part due to strong public interest in and opinions regarding the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman became the most sought-out non-suspect in America in the weeks leading up to his arrest, with bounties alleged to be on his head from Black Panther Party splinter groups and media seeking out the shooter for comment on Martin’s death and the resultant firestorm.
The piece was created by 31-year-old Denver art student Andy Bell, and Bell says that the inspiration first came when the Trayvon Martin case was wending its way through social media, before the notoriety now connected to the case existed. Bell spoke of wanting to “raise awareness” about what he perceived as an injustice in any way he could, and the medium- Skittles- is an obvious reference to the popular candy that Martin purchased the night he was gunned down on a Florida street.
The Denver Post spoke to Bell about the mosaic, titled “Fear Itself,” described by the owner of the gallery in which it now hangs as a “crazy, terribly beautiful piece,” and “profound beyond measure.” The Post says:
The piece isn’t about condemning Zimmerman, but a way of tapping into the conversations that have sprung up in a country divided by judgment on the case. Some believe Zimmerman killed an innocent kid. Others think he was acting in self-defense.
“It’s a symbol of what happens when you let fear rule your life,” he said.
The portrait of George Zimmerman took more than 12,000 Skittles varnished to plywood to build.