PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland artist has been doing his part to keep the movement for racial justice alive through iconic images of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Tristan “TK” Irving’s portraits have been displayed at protests and even carried during marches organized by Rose City Justice.
“I feel like when I painted these and they were at the protest that people were able to identify with them more. It made them closer to us,” Irving said.
The Black Lives Matter movement inspired Irving to bring the call for justice to his canvas in his own unique way.
“People look at other portraits of victims like this and think, feel a negative way — like, it brings sad feelings,” he said. “I really hope people look at my art and I don’t want people to be sad. That’s the main thing; people already have heavy hearts with the situation.”
Irving wants people to see George Floyd and Breonna Taylor for the light they brought to the world so he added his signature crown to each portrait.
“He’s a king now, everybody knows his name, you know, people area seeing him everywhere, I feel like he finally got his crown,” said Irving. “He never got his crown when he was walking the Earth but I feel like I was able to give it to him now.”
Irving has a studio filled with other colorful portraits and paints in the company of his muse: a tortoise named Larry.
“This is my baby, I don’t go anywhere without him,” Irving said of his pet. “When ever you see me painting, whenever you see me staying up those long nights — I’m doing it all for Larry.”
Irving has also been painting murals. One on the side of New Seasons in St Johns reads “I decided to stick with love — hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“I think it’s important to take situations and find the beauty in them,” he said. “I just want them to look at their faces and find the beauty in them. They are beautiful.”
Irving told KOIN 6 News he will donate the paintings to Rose City Justice so they can be auctioned off for a fundraiser to benefit the group. RCJ is planning to host another march for July 4 which will start at Revolution Hall at 1 p.m.