Artist, documentarian Michael D’Antuono paints with purpose
Using art to highlight social justice issues
This interview has been updated and edited on November 23, 2019 from its original publication date in the National Sun Times Network on February 15, 2016, which shut down publication in July 2017.
In October 2014, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was gunned down by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke near 41st and Pulaski. When news of the teen — who was shot 16 times — went public, it set off another round of recent protests against racial profiling, police brutality and criminal investigations. One protester in the crowd had this to say about decreasing incidents like this: “It Stops With Cops.”
The quote came from New York artist Michael D’Antuono in the form of an 8-foot banner of a painting with the same declaration. D’Antuono was in attendance to support McDonald and to protest Chicago’s former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s delay in releasing video footage of the incident.
I spoke with D’Antuono about his art, what inspires him to take on these political and cultural topics, his documentary on the criminal justice system, the Black Lives Matter movement, and how he feels about today’s classroom education.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn: What made you reach out to Russell Simmons for the documentary? How did that happen?