Photo by J'Mon Jackson
Photo by J'Mon Jackson

“An artist’s duty, as far as I am concerned, is to reflect the times.” This statement made by Nina Simone many years ago is one performance artist Maps Glover and interdisciplinary artist Timoteo Murphy have taken up as truth and put into action with their ongoing photo series Jump 4 Da Life.

The project seeks to honor lives taken as a result of gun violence in 2019. It’s important to reiterate the fact that these jumps represent lives, not just the black lives taken by gun violence. As the artists sought to produce something that was truly humanitarian, leaving no room for the work to be dismissed as a “black issue.” A strategic move allowing for a heightened level of connectivity between viewers and the images.

“A lot of times in my work, I am looking to find a balance between speaking about something that’s difficult to talk about and that people could easily shy away from. I wanted to make it about being a human being, shedding light on the value placed on human life as a society, as a community,” Glover said.

Born from a series of informal conversations the artists began having earlier this year around their feelings about gun control, violence and police brutality, Jump 4 Da Life is the marrying of fine art and social commentary. Shot in a single day around D.C., Maps completed roughly 670 jumps, all captured by Timoteo using a manual camera. The images are striking, depicting Maps in what one might describe as an out-of-body experience, set to the background of an inner city.

Photo by J’Mon Jackson

When asked why he chose to jump versus any other movement, Glover explained,” jumping for me was a celebration of my knowledge of their presence…I wanted to create an image that felt as if their souls were being released out the body right before they passed.”

The locations in question were selected by Murphy, an avid biker familiar with D.C.’s landscape. Each site reflects a different aspect of his life in the city; a fond memory, a routine stop, or even a place he once called home, all of which timed perfectly for ideal lighting and low foot traffic.

“The most popular image from the series, the one where Maps is jumping against the red brick background, that’s actually the T-Mobile store on the corner of Florida and Georgia Avenue … It’s where I go to pay my phone bill,” explained Murphy.

Interestingly, this particular location holds a special place in history as it sparked the “Don’t Mute D.C.” movement earlier this year.

As the project began to gain more attention from residents and local press, the importance of Jump 4 Da Life started to set in. It was bigger than simply making a statement and both artists quickly realized the first round of jumps was not enough. Many more lives had been lost and those spirits needed to be recognized. Society needed to pay attention. In January, Glover and Murphy plan to reboot the series. You may get lucky and catch them mid-jump, but if not, you’ll be able to purchase prints of the jumps at Transformer Gallery where a portion of the proceeds will go to Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to protecting children from gun violence.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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