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Hunted Like Fair Game

Artist displays plight of Black young men

Diane Xavier | 8/23/2013, 7:15 a.m. | Updated on 8/26/2013, 12:25 a.m.
Like many African American mothers, Shanequa Gay was concerned about the not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. But ...

Her goals as an artist are to spark conversations about these issues.

“People come up to me and ask, ‘What can I do?’ People are asking when they see my paintings, how they can help,” she said with an answer in mind. “We can attend forums, we can march, and we can rally and do something to make a change. Art is my platform and is what I’m utilizing to awaken people and initiate conversation.”

Gay also wants to set an example for her son.

“I want him to be able to be free, walk freely amongst his peers,” she said. “For me, it’s me speaking to my son and telling him that I do see what’s going on and you do matter. You can still carry yourself and you will be loved and protected but also be aware that not everybody sees you the way I see you, but that’s okay. Having to give my son reassurance after the Trayvon Martin verdict was interesting because I wanted to let him know that this was an isolated incident but we continue to see this happen in the news such as the violence in Chicago.”

One of the images depicted in Gay’s artwork is called Father Perpetual Help. This painting has an image of a father holding a baby in his arms.

“In Father Perpetual Help, it’s me speaking to fatherless homes, fathers needing to be in the homes, and fathers needing to return to their children,” Gay said. “I got the name after the Mother of Perpetual Help, the Madonna of Perpetual Help. The Madonna is always watching over, always protecting the infant baby Jesus and I am using that same type of iconic imagery and switching it and making it the African American male which needs to protect, watch over, and be there for his son so that they are healthy, well and protected.”

With years of high rates of death, incarceration and high-school dropouts, sparked by high rates of fatherless homes and crime rates in the news, African Americans may be desensitized toward the situation or even discouraged in their ability to make a difference. Yet, knowing that every person can make a difference, Gay hopes that the conversations sparked by The Fair Game Project will inspire others to do whatever they can to make a positive impact in the lives of young Black men in America.