CWU News

Life-size Mural at CWU Explores Societal Perceptions of Race

Tacoma artist Jasmine Iona Brown’s life-size image, “Reading Pedagogy,” simply shows a young black man in a hoodie intently reading a book.

It’s a simple yet powerful photo-realistic portrait—featuring her fourteen-year-old son Jaymin Brown—and it’s designed to reference the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.

The 16-inch wide by 65-inch high photo-mural graces the exterior brick wall near the east public entrance of the Brooks Library until October 21, in conjunction with the All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party at the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery.

The artist said the visual connection to Trayvon Martin in her work is intentional. She wants to make the viewer think about how we respond to the presence of a young African American person in a public place.

The piece is part of a larger series by Brown called Black Teen Wearing Hoodie. In other works from the series, Jaymin is shown playing the saxophone and the guitar—everyday fourteen-year-old activities.

“The portrait has already sparked some important dialogues about race and perceptions of race when it was exhibited the Seattle area,” said Gregg Schlanger, chair of CWU’s Department of Art + Design. “The best art, however, should make us think and reflect, and this piece can be part of that conversation.”

About the Artist
Jasmine Iona Brown was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and traveled to five continents before settling in Washington. She earned her BFA at Howard University and her MA in African Studies from UCLA. Her graduate study in ancient history and cultures led her to incorporate antique artistic mediums, such as egg tempera, into her artwork. She is fascinated with the human face and the tragic narratives of marginalized people.

Image: Jasmine Brown, “Reading Pedagogy, 2017,” from the series, Black Teen Wearing Hoodie
16x65 inches; photomural decal

Media Contact: Heather Horn Johnson, Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, 509-963-2665,