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The photographer giving a “voice” to the BLM protesters in 21Country

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - A new exhibit has opened inside the Artlink gallery: “Voices”.

Each image, carefully selected, contains a moment, documenting the Black Lives Matter protests that happened last year in downtown Fort Wayne.

Some pictures, have been seen by millions.

Photographer DJ E-Clyps’ picture of a young boy holding a megaphone, was featured in TIME magazine the summer of 2020.

He explained the motivation behind compiling images he felt captured the “voices” of Hoosiers after the death of George Floyd.

“Not all the people involved in the protest will have the opportunity to do an interview like this,” DJ E-Clyps told us, “or be exposed to a media outlet or even for someone to ask them their opinion or how they feel about stuff. For these photos to basically continue that conversation for them is really what the whole point of it was.”

Normally, artists apply to have their images displayed in the Artlink gallery.

Then a panel of members chooses who will be featured.

But DJ E-Clyps’ work was sought after by organizers.

“When I came on staff almost two years ago, I recognized very quickly that we were representing predominately white artists, and I wanted to change that,” Executive Director Lynette Scott said, “and for me, this exhibition represents the first step in sort of a new direction for Artlink, and making sure that we’re representing those who have been historically excluded.”

She described her initial feelings being surrounded by the images as they were installed, “I see these pictures, and the people looking back at me, and I see the pain but it also gives me hope that we can make those changes.”

DJ E-Clyps hopes his opportunity will be an inspiration, for the next generation of artists.

“To have this exhibit downtown, to have opportunity for all people, and then also children of color to come down here and see that it is possible to be downtown? It’s awesome for your artwork to be displayed downtown,” he said, “It’s possible for you to become a part of the art community. This may inspire the next photographer or artist who wants to venture out and use their platform for good.”

DJ E-Clyps shared with us several of his favorite images.

One of them depicts a somber man with blood on his shirt.

“This was shot after Balin Brake got his eye shot out with a tear gas canister. That’s his blood on the shirt,” he described, “This was a powerful picture for me. The amount of emotions he was going through at that time? You can see it all in his face.”

Another photo shows a woman wrapped in an American flag with the words “Black Lives Matter” on it, a fist held firmly towards the sky.

“Woman empowerment,” DJ E-Clyps told us, describing what it meant to him, “she’s fighting for America”.

Even he learns something new every time he looks at his photos after some time, “whether it’s the expression in their eyes, the tension in their body, or just a moment that you almost have a sense of total recall when you start to look at them.”

The photojournalist carries several rubber bullets he was hit with in his camera bag, as a reminder.

With his exhibit up during February, he hopes his work will ignite discussion during Black History Month.

“Just this whole process of, ever since the protest, and everything else, I’ve just been engaged in this constant conversation about black lives and the impact and everything that it is having,” DJ E-Clyps told us, “so for me its like, February is Black History Month but it’s been a continual process, really.”

 “It means a lot as far as recognizing black history as far as for some of us Black History Month every month. Just this whole process of ever since the protest and everything like that I’ve been engaged in this constant conversation about black lives in the impact anything that is having. So for me it’s like February is Black History Month but it’s been a continual process really.”

“Voices” is free to the public.

Artlink is open 10am-8pm Thursday, 10am-6pm Friday and Saturday, as well as noon-5pm on Sunday.

DJ E-Clyps says he will periodically stop by during its Feb. 18-Mar. 21 run.

He and Lynette Scott are also testing “virtual field trips” to open up the experience to kids in school.

For more information on DJ E-Clyps, you can find his website here.

Author Profile Photo

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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