On May 25, 2020, George Floyd Jr. was killed in Minneapolis by a police officer while he was under arrest. The officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for a reported 8 minutes and 46 seconds. His death sparked numerous protests and demonstrations calling for renewed attention to systemic racism in the United States and the inequitable treatment of people of color by law enforcement. Reflecting on Floyd’s death, I created two drawings while thinking about Floyd and the duration of time he gasped for breath. In one, I make "breath marks" for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, to find out how many breaths I breathed during that time, how many breaths George Floyd was deprived of. In the other I mark the paper for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, using “holy dirt” from northern New Mexico’s El Sanctuario de Chimayó (famous for its healing power), while thinking about the terrible interval in which his breath was taken.
All images copyright Jill O'Bryan