Proceeds from the auction of LÁOLÚ's piece, alongside a George Floyd sculpture, will benefit non-profit organizations set up by the Taylor and Floyd families.
The late Breonna Taylor continues to be an iconic symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement. Gunned down by police in her own home, Taylor’s image has been used to protest policing and racism in America, in the months and years following her death in March 2020. Now, a sculpture of her, covered in artwork by Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist LÁOLÚ NYC, aims to raise money for the non-profit organization set up by Taylor’s family.
The sculpture of Taylor is based on a sculpture that formed part of a pop-up exhibition that was staged in Flatbush, Brooklyn and Union Square, Manhattan, earlier this year, which also featured sculptures of the late George Floyd and Congressman John Lewis. Created by artist Chris Carnabuci, the Taylor sculpture is covered with artwork by LÁOLÚ NYC, using his signature art style known as the “Sacred Art of the Ori.”
LÁOLÚ, who is a former human rights lawyer and contributed his black-and-white style to Beyoncé’s award-winning visual album, Lemonade, created his own interpretation of the impact Taylor’s death has had, using traditional Nigerian symbols. In a statement about the project, he said: “I am honored to take part in such an important fight for justice and being able to share a piece of the Yoruba culture in the narrative of Breonna’s story.”
Measuring approximately 45 inches tall, the artwork is a smaller version of the sculpture that was on public view. LÁOLÚ’s idiosyncratic style can be seen on both the sculpture and the base, and includes a variety of coded symbols and Yoruba iconography that take inspiration from the civil rights and social justice movements, the details of Taylor’s life and death, traditional Yoruba culture, Black culture, and American history.
As he’s been known to do, LÁOLÚ, who recently debuted his first NFT artwork, incorporated the "Oya'' spiral, a symbol that signifies the cycle of life and its continuity, into the piece. He also used black and white justice scales, representing the fight for racial justice and equity, a thunderbolt representing the Yoruba deity Oya, invoking her essence as a fierce warrior, and a drum to celebrate Taylor’s life, bringing the instrument’s context in traditional African music to symbolize the beat of life.
LÁOLÚ used his signature art style, known as the “Sacred Art of the Ori,” to create the Breonna Taylor artwork.Photo: Sotheby's
The sculpture of Taylor will go under the hammer from tomorrow until the 17th of December, as part of the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction, and it will be on public view at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries in New York from the 9th to the 15th of December. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Breonna Taylor Foundation. Also being auctioned off is the Floyd sculpture by Carnabuci, which was restored after an act of vandalism on it that took place two days after it went up in Union Square. Proceeds from that auction will go to the We Are Floyd Organization.
A sculpture of George Floyd by Chris Carnabuci is also up for auction, with proceeds to benefit the We Are Floyd Organization.Photo: Sotheby's
Taylor’s mother has said of the artwork and auction: “We are still very much fighting for justice for Breonna. This project not only captures Breonna’s spirit, it is a monument standing for a call to justice for her, and the others who have suffered the same fate, and a beautiful way honor her life.” Lindsay Eshelman, who is co-founder of Confront Art, which is collaborating with Sotheby’s for the auction added: “We hope that by allowing protestors, allies, and observers the opportunity to view the statue first-hand that we will encourage viewers to participate in tangible differences, such as donating to the We Are Floyd Organization and Breonna Taylor Foundation.”