George Zimmerman's Skittles Portrait Misses the Point

04.16.12 Marina Galperina

The RedLine art gallery in Denver “jumped” all over this one, but this rendering of George Zimmerman’s mug shot with 12,000 Skittles is off the mark.

It’s called Fear Itself. “We as a society, though we might be afraid of a lot of things, when it comes down to it, some of those things might be as innocuous as a bag of Skittles,” the artist says. “I think we’re sort of using levity to sort of invite people to see that we’ve got to change how we see the world.”

A kid got gunned down. If the artist was intending to “sort of” make a point about fear twisting perception of reality — the reality being Skittles, the perception being whatever Zimmerman was afraid of — it makes no sense for Trayon Martin’s killer Zimmerman to be the one made of harmless Skittles. This is topical, but it’s meaningless. And “levity?”

The new work is similar to Jason Mecier’s famous series — remember the Whitney Houston pill portrait? It might have been a piece of kitsch in bad taste, but it made sense. This is one of those times where concept should have been more important than “levity” and hot topic keywords.