Artist Turns Graduation Photos Into Mugshots to Challenge Racial Stereotypes

Mugshot Series
Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

When 25-year-old artist EJ Brown watched unarmed black man Walter Scott being shot in the back by police on the news, he resolved to speak up about his feelings of anger, MTV News reports.

The result is Brown’s Mugshot Series, which depict the young artist’s friends dressed in their graduation outfits, complete with cap and gown, as they hold booking slates with their college majors written on them.

Mugshot Series Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

Mugshot Series
Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

The emerging artist was inspired by a photograph he saw of Ferguson police shooting victim Michael Brown dressed in his graduation gear, and felt that the image illustrated the contrast between the perception and reality of being an African American college graduate.

He said, “The idea came to me from how I was feeling as an educated black man in America. I felt like nobody really cared about me and nobody really cared about us.”

Mugshot Series Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

Mugshot Series
Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

He added that as young black men, he and the subjects of his photographs can relate to the victims. Referring to the recent spate of Police shootings, Brown explained, “For me, I knew things like this were out there, but I’d never seen it. So when I saw it, I got really angry and I ran to art to express how I was feeling” (see Artists Take to Miami Streets to Protest Michael Brown and Israel Hernandez Killings and Dread Scott Demands Dissolution of America’s “Racist” Police Force In Honor of Malcolm X Anniversary).

Mugshot Series Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

Mugshot Series
Photo: EJ Brown via perceptionofcomplexion.tumblr.com

Brown admits that the positive feedback from the project has been overwhelming, telling MTV, “A woman said her young son saw this and he ‘wants to be like you guys and go to college.’ That alone was enough for me to do this project.”

See more images on Brown’s Perception of Complexion blog.


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