Inspired by Makoto Fujimura, an American evangelical partners with Lebanese art institute to equally dignify every death.
Nine months later, Brady Black was fed up—and inspired.
Last August, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history leveled Lebanon’s main port and thousands of homes.
The government has done next to nothing.
But now, each victim has a portrait across from Beirut’s famed Martyrs Square.
“Families were protesting, holding up pictures of their relatives as they demanded justice,” said Black.
“They wanted them to be seen. So we made it loud.”
An American street artist resident in Lebanon since 2015, Black teamed up with Art of Change to illegally create the capital city’s largest informal portrait gallery. Run by a secular British artist and a Lebanese Muslim from the heterodox Druze sect, the art institute co-founders sponsored Black’s evangelical idea for “good mischief.”
Scouring the internet for every name and image that could be found, Black digitally drew each face with the utmost care—with one caveat. No matter the importance of the victim or the degree of fame achieved in their death, each was limited to one hour of his creativity.
An hour he bathed in prayer for the surviving family.
“People come up to me, frantically asking, ‘Where is my son?’” said Black of his installation.
“‘Come with me,’ I tell them. ‘I know exactly where he is.’”
Each victim’s portrait is about 10 square feet in size. Arranged side-by-side, the images span the equivalent of three football fields, covering three-quarters of a city block on one of Beirut’s busiest downtown intersections.
Black was especially keen on the eyes.
Mona Lisa-like, …