Tyler Gordon, a 13-year-old self-taught artist, focuses his paintings on black history and culture. According to an article done by Because of Them We Can, the young artist has paid incredible tributes to Janet Jackson, Kevin Durant, Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, and even the late Toni Morrison. His art has also been greatly inspired by the five black and Latino teenagers who were unjustly convicted in the infamous Central Park jogging case in 1989. Known as the Exonerated 5, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam each spent time behind bars before being exonerated years later. After meeting the Exonerated 5 at the BET Awards, Gordon was inspired to paint their images on a white backpack.
“I chose to paint them on my backpack so that kids at my school and other adults would be reminded of what happened to them,” he states.
In addition, Gordon himself understands the importance of persevering through challenges since he was born deaf and didn’t say his first words until he was 6 years old, according to Because of Them We Can. But now that he’s overcome that, Gordon now uses his paintbrush and love for people to make a positive impact.
Gordon’s mother, Nicole Kindle, said that she is very proud that her son is using his talent to inspire and encourage others. “I’m extremely proud of him. He took his gifts that he was blessed with and [is] using them to raise awareness for the things going on in the world.”
Last year, filmmaker Ava DuVernay released the series When They See Us, which gave a nuclear lens into the lives of the young men widely known as “The Central Park Five,” and the hell they experienced as young teens wrongfully accused and convicted of assaulting, raping, and sodomizing a white woman jogger, in New York City in 1989. The Netflix series went on to earn an Emmy Award.