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Ink Tributes, an Exhibition Highlighting Victims of Police Brutality, Opens August 25 at Saint Louis University Museum of Art

by Maggie Rotermund
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Maggie Rotermund
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The Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA) will present a provocative new exhibition by Disney Animation artist Marlon West, featuring individuals who have experienced police brutality.

“Marlon West’s Ink Tributes,” a series of comic-book-style portraits opens Aug. 25.

Ink Tributes

“Marlon West’s Ink Tributes.” Image courtesy of the artist. 

West, a St. Louis native, began the comic-style portrait series after the murder of George Floyd. He started doing comic-style portraits with the intention of completing a few. The collection now numbers more than 40 portraits.

“This is such an important exhibition,” said Petruta Lipan, executive director of Museums and Galleries at SLU. “I think it will tremendously impact those who view it.”

The series features portraits of victims of police brutality and racial discrimination, as well as defenders like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Rep. John Lewis.

“For many of us Black nerds, Marvel’s characters are particularly relatable. They are often hated and hunted by the powers that be. They are aliens, or born different, or having to deal with harsh cards dealt to them,” West said. “They are feared, despised, shunned, and misunderstood. There isn’t a more American form of portraiture than black ‘inks’ over white, to honor those that faced this nation’s fear and loathing of the Black body.”

West notes his roots in Missouri in the captions for his portraits of Michael Brown and Nina Pop, a transgender woman stabbed to death in Sikeston in 2020.

Portraits in the collection also include Trayvon Martin and Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police Officer who died on Jan. 6, 2021. Nearly all the tributes West created have been devoted to slain people or departed icons. Vice President Kamala Harris is one of the few portraits of a living person.

West is an award-winning animator, head of effects, and VFX supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Last year, the exhibition premiered at the Los Angeles United Methodist Museum of Social Justice. SLUMA’s exhibit expands upon the initial showing with more of West’s portraits.

“As an academic museum, we want to engage and educate those who visit,” Lipan said.

Also opening on Aug. 25 is Divergent Paths, which explores artwork from the 20th century, a time of tremendous artistic experimentation that resulted in various divergent styles. Divergent Paths surveys artworks from SLUMA’s permanent collection, examining how artists from different periods and artistic movements have worked in divergent styles.

The exhibition showcases a wide range of artworks from the early 20th century to the present day and highlights the featured artists' diverse artistic approaches and techniques.

There will be an opening reception for both exhibitions from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at SLUMA, located at 3663 Lindell Blvd. SLUMA is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.


Opened in 2003, the Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA) is located in a Beaux Arts style building, originally built in 1900 for the Saint Louis Club. Saint Louis University’s collection, which dates back to the University’s early days, continues the Jesuit philosophy of focusing on educating the whole person. SLUMA represents a critical step in realizing the University's mission, advancing St. Ignatius' ideals, as well as increasing the overall exposure of society to the arts. Distinguished by its Jesuit-based tradition, the museum developed into one of the nation's top university museums. 

Saint Louis University Museum of Art is located at 3663 Lindell Boulevard on the campus of Saint Louis University. Museum hours are as listed on the website. Admission is free. For more information, call 314-977-2666 or visit

About Saint Louis University 

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 13,500 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. SLU's service-focused mission is at the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.