Beyond the pain felt with the cruel murder of 17-year-old African-American teenager Trayvon Benjamin Martin by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, one man’s art route changed with the act.
Zimmerman fatally shot Martin with the excuse he looked suspicious when the youth had gone to a convenience store and was making a return home. Zimmerman will eventually be charged and tried after public outcry, but was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.
For artist Harold Claudio, that Martin, who was carrying a packet of Skittles (confectionery) he got from the convenience store could still be killed with no consequence, prompted him to honour the fallen youth using the colourful sweets in his work.
The 34-year-old from West Palm Beach, Florida has ditched his pencil and now only creates portraits of powerful Black people including Tupac, Beyonce, Bob Marley and Trayvon using Skittles. He said: “I decided to use Skittles when the Trayvon Martin incident happened. I was inspired to start a movement by one of the items he had during the time he was killed. The way I see it, no matter what we (people of color) do, it’s seen as a threat in society when I’m actually we are sweet and colorful, like the candy.”
The self-taught artist told metro.co.uk he has no formal training rather since being a child, together with his siblings he just started drawing “ninja turtles all over the walls at home.”
Claudio explained to repel the urge of people to consume the art made of skittles, he’s had to add white Skittles in his work which is imported from the UK or Canada indicating subjects of his portraits are chosen by considering the cultural impact they’ve had. He noted: “I feel that whoever is making a sweet positive impact in moving the culture forward in society should be immortalised in Skittles art.”
The unique artist on a mission stated: “The different colours make it even more significant because there are so many different people from diverse backgrounds. Putting it all together to make beautiful and influential people represent all of us/society. If we came together, we, too, can make the same beautiful impact being unified.”
Claudio’s portraits take averagely two weeks to put together. For him, another motivation for the Skittles arts is to make an impact by highlighting different subjects of culture adding, “anyone that can relate to the sweet amazing candy should be able to relate it to the culture.”