ORLANDO, Fla. – Located inside the Terrace Gallery of Orlando City Hall, Peterson Guerrier takes a look at one of his photographs with the image of his 6-month-old daughter wearing a crown made with bullets and shells- an image the artist said reflects the struggles minorities encounter.
"The first thing that they see is that I'm black and they don't care about my education, they don't care about anything else," Guerrier said. "All they see is this and automatically think something else and having my daughter, it's--I'm trying to create a world where she doesn't have to feel that way."
Guerrier’s latest exhibit, titled Zuri, after his daughter, consists of 18 large paintings and four photographs, all designed to make viewers think about the social issues minorities continually face.
“Our job is to capture what’s going on around our world, our society,” the 34-year-old said.
“No matter what you do in this world the minute somebody sees you and you’re a minority, they automatically associate you with a life of--that’s probably something that you’ve never been around,” Guerrier said. “As a kid, I used to play with like water guns and playing cops and robbers and now we can’t really do that.”
He said his artwork is about challenging perceptions.
“We’re supposed to be a society that’s supposedly so open minded, as they use it, woke, however, we’re more sensitive now, you know, we have to really be careful on what we say, what we do,” the artist said.
His exhibit also shows the problems of those that are seen and not heard, like wildlife. Most of his paintings include lions and elephants.
"Their home is being taken away from them, they have no say so they're being hunted for no apparent reason for just pure game," he said. "When it comes to us as well, certain things is being taken away from us."
Among his favorite pieces, is the first painting that started this collection: a representation of female empowerment.
“Having elephants in all my paintings is a sense of like a matriarch in my life. This is what this piece is, a strong, powerful human being,” Guerrier said. “It’s a representation of my mother, a representation of my daughter, a representation of my girlfriend. I just wanted to create something that my future generation would look at it, they will be proud of it.”
Peterson Guerrier’s exhibit will be on display at Orlando City Hall through April 3rd.