Art With an Agenda: Remembering Kelly Thomas

Roxanna Mostatabi tells us about her entry for the show and the process of creating it

With the Kelly Thomas art show coming up, much has been said about the cause. A wide array of local artists put their talents to work in order to honor and celebrate Kelly Thomas’ life as well as making sure that the atrocities committed against him won't be forgotten anytime soon. Fullerton-based artist Roxanna Mostatabi has been featured here before; now she tells us about her main piece for the Kelly Thomas art show:

I originally had sketched out a couple of drawings of the protesters. I was going to use them as a template for a bigger piece. However, I realized that I would not have enough time to paint this enhanced piece. It was then that my friend suggested I just mat the drawings I already had. All of them are drawings of real people -- it turned out later that I had picked out some of Kelly's friends without knowing! It turned out well; I prefer being able to see all the individual people with their signs as opposed to painting them as one group, which I had originally intended. I thought I was done, but I kept on thinking about one of my particular subjects: the little girl. I could not get her out of my mind because to me, she encompassed everything that I personally felt and wanted to express. In a way, she evoked the innocence of what I imagined to have been Kelly’s character -- from everything you hear, he just seemed to have been an extremely gentle and nice person. There was a meeting that took place at the gallery -- all the artists, docents and Kelly's family and friends were present. Some of them talked to us and expressed gratitude about the show taking place and how much it meant to them. Being in the presence of those people to whom Kelly was so dear made me even more aware of the significance of this show. I teared up, and after the meeting I had this conviction to paint the bigger piece that we are looking at right now. I locked myself up in my studio all weekend, Monday and Tuesday -- the deadline for all submissions was Wednesday, and I really wanted to give it my all. I researched a lot, looked at more pictures of protesters, their signs and read even more about Kelly Thomas in general. In turned in my piece the very last day.

Of course, the surveillance video played a big role in how I perceived the subject -- I wanted to express my disgust at this enormous breach of trust. This authority -- the very people who are supposedly enlisted with the duty of protecting us and upholding our rights should we not be able to do so ourselves -- committed this crime. It makes me feel like the world got turned upside down...At any rate, I am glad that I put myself into this piece wholeheartedly. 

Kelly Thomas : Art With An Agenda

Opening reception: July 6th, 6-11 p.m.

PÄS Gallery, 223 W. Santa Fe Ave.

All proceeds from sold artworks go to Orange County's homeless through the Kelly Thomas Memorial Fund. installation at the Magoski Complex.

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