Clifford Bunn

 

As an African American man working as a law enforcement officer in Oakland, California for many years, I came to realize that the system I took an oath to protect was the very same system that had been designed to oppress me. While working within the toxic culture of law enforcement, my opinions were often marginalized. I felt caught between the desire to prove myself to those I worked alongside and the need to maintain my sense of self and humanity. In attempting to find my voice as an artist, I came to the realization that what I had been searching for had been long lost. Although finding my voice has been cathartic, it also came with inner struggle and the dissolution of professional relationships. Following my law enforcement career, I unknowingly began my journey as an artist by exploring art as a form of therapy. I had a great deal of anxiety about being ostracized by those I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with for having these very views. But, I came to realize that "The Blue Line" was a concept that served some, but not all—and especially not me. For the 2021 Senior Art Exhibition, I have chosen to exhibit a series of self-portraits, a triptych alluding to the systemic racism embedded in the law enforcement profession. It felt honest to use myself as a model for these paintings rather than an anonymous caricature.

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