Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

A Palestinian-American artist is behind the touching George Floyd illustration you are seeing all over Instagram

The artwork has been liked and shared millions of times

Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra's illustration paying tribute to George Floyd. Shirien.Creates / Instagram 
Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra's illustration paying tribute to George Floyd. Shirien.Creates / Instagram 

Since the death of George Floyd in the US last week, the internet has been awash with tributes to the 46-year-old.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died during arrest by police officers, one of who had his knee placed on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, a restraint tactic banned by most police forces.

Caught on video by shocked bystanders, Floyd’s death has sparked fury in the US and around the world, reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement and causing protests in many major cities.

Of the many touching tributes being shared online, it is likely you will have come across a colourful illustration of Floyd, his face circled by a wreath of bright flowers, with the words “Justice for George” written in italics above.

The image is the work of Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra, who posted it to her Instagram account Shirien.Creates alongside the caption, “Heartbroken, angry and disgusted. This must end. Much love and solidarity to Black communities grieving another beautiful life lost. May George Floyd Rest in Power.”

The work has been liked more than three millions times and has had hundreds of thousands of shares.

It is not the first time the illustrator, 33, has stood in solidarity following unjust killings in the US. Earlier this year, she also created an art work following the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, who was shot while out running by two white men claiming they were conducting a citizen’s arrest for burglary.

“I was afraid that people would only see the video and remember his soul being taken away from him,” Damra told Elle. “I wanted to not only have the art for myself to process, but also in the hopes that other people that are facing similar things can identify with it and help them process, too.”

She made similar digital portraits following the deaths of African-Americans Breonna Taylor and Floyd, who were also killed at the hands of the police.

Damra is not the only Arab illustrator using her work to speak out for black community. Lebanese artist Nour Flayhan also shared an illustration showing protests in Minnesota following Floyd’s death alongside the words: “Black lives matter. The whole world is watching.”

Updated: June 2, 2020 12:25 PM

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