Justine Ruszczyk, Australian American, 1977 - 2017 Search this
acrylic with ink and stickers on wood panel
H x W: 60 1/16 × 47 5/8 × 2 5/8 in. (152.6 × 121 × 6.7 cm)
California, United States, North and Central America
Flower Memorial for Pee Chee illustrates the tragic effects of police brutality for three individuals—Jordan Edwards, Joaquina Valencia, and Justine Ruszczyk.
Edwards was 15 when he was killed by a police officer in Balch Springs, Texas, while sitting unarmed in a car with four friends. The officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Valencia was wrestled to the ground in Riverside County, California, and arrested for selling flowers without a vendor’s license. She sued the County Sheriff’s Department, claiming she was unlawfully targeted because of her race. Ruszczyk, an Australian American, was shot and killed by a police officer after she called 911 to report the possible assault of a woman in an alley behind her house. The officer was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
A painting depicting the scene of the violent arrest of flower vendor Joaquina Valencia in the center, with vignette portrafits of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards and Justine Ruszczyk. In separate incidences, police officers shot and killed both Edwards and Ruszczyk in 2017.
Against an orange background, the center scene depicts an armed and uniformed officer violently kneeling on Valencia as she lays on the sidewalk amid scattered rose flower petals. There is blue pen ink on top of the flower petals. At top left, a smiling Edwards is depicted from the shoulders up with a garland of pink and red roses around his neck. Just below him is a red circle with lettering reading [Pee Chee / ALL SEASON /PORT-]. At bottom right is a smiling Ruszczyk encircled by a garland of red and pink roses. Both flower garlands are composed of rose stickers adhered to the painting. Thin red lines run along the left side of the painting from top to bottom, behind the image of Edwards and the Pee Chee sign. On the verso is the artist’s signature [Martinez/17] in black paint.