New York magazine Trayvon anniversary
The latest New York magazine cover features this powerful artwork from mixed media artist Deborah Roberts.
The magazine has a long tradition of commissioning cover images from the best contemporary artists to draw attention to major stories in its pages, and this is another strong example. Roberts—known for her work addressing issues of race, beauty, and otherness—marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
The feature it introduces is a special package that tells the history of the BLM movement, put together by editors Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Morgan Jerkins. ‘What I hope readers will take away from the stories is that aside from the snappy headlines and viral stories, the writers and their subjects are human beings, full of blood and bone, who have stakes in this fight against global injustice,’ says Jerkins.
The cover reflects that hope perfectly, a singular, powerful image that exudes humanity. It’s been lighting up my Instagram feed this past week or so, and I wanted to find out more about how such a cover gets produced.
The magazine’s photo director Jody Quon gave me some background, ‘The idea for the issue was to examine these last ten years of Black Lives Matter, pegged to the tenth anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin—what has and has not changed—a deep and humbling examination of our culture through this lens.
‘Deborah’s work felt like the perfect fit for this very big and complex topic. We had a few conversations about the cover, but it was all in her head from the start.
‘We wanted the cover to be powerful, moving, direct, without being grim—and Deborah gave us that and so much more. Her artwork manages to also make you think, feel—even inspire hope.’
Initially, Roberts attempted to create a work that would bring together all the faces of Black people who have been victims of police brutality. ‘I started cutting up faces and merging them together, but everyone needed their own space to exist,’ she says.
For the final image, Roberts used the now-iconic, slightly pixelated black and white photograph of Martin in a hoody. ‘I wanted to do something that hadn’t already been done for him,’ she says. ‘It’s been used for him and against him. I kind of wanted to take that away.’
Editor-in-chief: David Haskell
Design director: Tom Alberty
Photography director: Jody Quon
See more work by Deborah Roberts in the issue of Zoetrope: All-story she guest edited, available below.