Just Us/Justice came about after my personal experience with law enforcement. I was working at a group and one of my clients was “being arrested.” He was resisting at first, but the police had him on his knees and seemed to me that this arrest attempt had turned into a beating. My client was also on the spectrum and having seen enough I stepped in and got in front of the main officer who was ferociously swinging his baton. He told me to move. I refused. I addressed my client who was already on his knees to just lay down, be still and stop moving all together. The police then started to swing the baton at me. I still didn’t move. After that I did not move and my client was still on his knees. They tased him from a distance. After that multiple officers stepped in, handcuffed him and took him away. And they arrested me too and charged me with obstruction. After that experience my art changed.
Brent Billingsley, graduate from Miami University with a degree in fine art, developed a love for black and white imagery in his last semester of school. His media of choice is reduction woodblock cutting yet he also works with ink, acrylics and pastels. While attending Miami University, Brent worked with at-risk African American youth through mentoring and as direct care staff at numerous group homes. After graduating, Brent continued his education with a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati. Brent believes that art can be utilized to reach youth in a plethora of spiritual, social and therapeutic ways. Brent has themed his art surrounding the institution of family and 60’s genre imagery. He believes the imagery is a remembrance of connected loved ones and a time when a people stood for something worth fighting for. Brent believes it would behoove today’s culture to take time and be grateful for family connections. He also believes that we are not so far removed from when basic rights had to be achieved through marches, resistance and protest. He states, “I acknowledge family because there is no greater love, I acknowledge history because we have risen above, we have diligently unraveled, but we still have a distance to travel”.