Unarmed – Raafi Rivero

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Photo Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Leon Gallery is proud to welcome back Raafi Rivero for the first gallery exhibition of his powerful social justice project, Unarmed.

Unarmed is an ongoing series of sport jerseys in memoriam of black victims of police violence. Each jersey is created in the colors of a victim’s local sports team. The number displayed on each jersey represents the person’s age when they were killed. Stars, if present, indicate the number of times the person was shot. The Sean Bell jersey, for instance, is a number 23, in New York Knicks colors, with 50 stars.

The exhibition features the full series of designs, thirteen so far, and images from a series of street installations of Unarmed that were displayed across the country throughout the Fall of 2020. Included in the exhibition will be installations, a documentary video, and a memorial to Elijah McClain, in which visitors will be able to participate. Rivero says, “Unarmed feels more like a calling than a brand, more like a mission than an art project, more like a passion project than activism. It is all three.

Artist Bio: Raafi Rivero has directed numerous short films, advertisements, and music videos in addition to work in design. His directing credits include a suite of promos for HBO’s True Blood, content for Microsoft, Sony, The Rockefeller Foundation, and an Art Directors Club award-winning viral campaign for the Maryland Lottery. Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears, a 2010 short film, played more the 30 film festivals to date, winning honors in multiple cities. Raafi’s music videos for Ghostface Killah and Styles P have aggregated over a million views online. 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story?, Raafi’s first feature film, premiered at the LA Film Festival in 2016 and is currently airing on Starz Network.

Raafi holds and MFA in Film from Howard University, and a BA in Art/Semiotics from Brown University. His writing about new media has appeared in The New York Times.

This exhibition was sponsored in part by The Foundation for Contemporary Arts.