Looking Under the Hood of Artist and Peace Officer Sean Hoodye – RedState

National Law Enforcement Week has been moved to the second weekend and week of October due to the pandemic. On the National Mall, celebrations were held to honor law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day in order to protect us.

Law enforcement officers across the country have been attacked and battered in a way that is unprecedented over the past two-years. This is a new attack by the Biden administration. Many hardworking, dedicated peace officers will be fired or will resign from their positions. Some people have succeeded or attempted to take their own lives. They were there during the worst of the pandemic. There was no vaccine. Because they refused to obey an unlawful mandate, they have been thrown from those positions. This is an awful tragedy.

This week, it is crucial and essential to celebrate their bravery and sacrifice.

Let me share some stories from the past years with law enforcement officers.

My dearest friends are law enforcers. What I love about my friendship with them is that you know exactly what you’re getting; there is no pretense, there is no bullsh*t. For them, any obfuscation or shading of reality could be the difference between life or death, so it’s not something they have the luxury to traffic in. While my work does not concern life and death, it is something I view with a narrower perspective. Life can end at any moment. Take it all in, be aware, and enjoy your six.

In 2017, one of those dear friends, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective, introduced me to a fellow officer who he had the privilege of training, and they subsequently have built a decades-long friendship.

Sean Hoodeye is his friend’s name, and he still serves as a Defensive Tactics Instructor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. His training includes the physical and mental tools officers need to keep alive. He has been a Sheriff’s Deputy for over 29 years, and has served as a street cop, a detective, and on SWAT.

Hoodye also has a passion for art and a career that’s equally important to the world. Hoodye works as a visual artist. His paintings spark conversations, ignite passions and encourage deeper thought.

“Sean Hoodye at Work-Channeling Jackson Pollock,” 2020. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission

 

Hoodye, whom I interviewed a little over 4 years ago at the unveiling his series, was a privilege. The Things I See At the Walt Girdner Gallery, Pasadena CA. Hoodye would never have known that I was interested in law enforcement if it had been only through his art. That’s a good thing.

Hoodye’s first viewpoint on the world was through the lens of an artist. He said in a recent interview, “Art is the way that I breathe.”

In 2017, I talked to him about his culture-rich and very creative childhood.

“I literally say I’ve been an artist as long as I have been Black. I’ve always drawn. That dot matrix paper was brought home by my mother. When we refer to that material, it is always a sign of our age.

“So, I would do murals. They would be strung together. I love underwater stuff, I love the whole Jacque Cousteau, growing up on all that stuff I would do a lot of underwater battle scenes, and it would just be this huge mural of death and destruction, of sharks and divers, and I’ve always done things like that. So, as I’ve gotten older, they really fueled and nurtured the passion, by taking me to museums all the time.”

Hoodye admitted that he didn’t take the gift seriously and lost a scholarship for full-ride.

“I ended up losing a partial scholarship in art and poetry that he [his teacher]I was told about it later. And by the way, nobody one else was up for it, he only put me up—I was a shoe-in. One of the things he said was that I wasn’t taking my craft seriously. It really spoke to me. So, I knew at that time I wasn’t ready to pursue that path.”

Hoodye chose law enforcement because it was an area he felt a connection with.

“Law enforcement was something I enjoyed. I was a student worker at the Sheriff’s station in City of Industry, I enjoyed that camaraderie,” he said.

“I’m a passionate person, but I am also a very active person. It resonated. This was my best choice, knowing what I now know. Because the idea of having to do what you love to eat—and I’ve seen people have to go through that—you compromise your voice. I’ve never wanted to compromise my voice.”

The artwork is stunning and I am able to confirm this after seeing it up close. You will be able to see the artwork closer if you listen carefully.

“The State of Us,” 2018. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission.

 

“I’m actually glad that I waited as long as I have. It’s worked out well. My voice isn’t compromised, my craft is getting better all the time. I’m confident, and I feel great about what I am doing as an artist.”

He has never lost that confidence, and in this time of crisis his voice is stronger, more powerful and more important than ever. One of his newer pieces, which is actually three pieces in one, is called “America Divided.” It shows the Far Left, and the Far Right, and then there is what lies in the center. It’s a thought-provoking work that allows for the viewer to find that center that brings both sides together.

America Divided – A 3 in 1 section where Far Left and Far Right are separate, yet together they make up the entire. Use with permission.

 

A mutual friend referred me to an interview Sean Hoodye conducted with Del Lampkin, Harbinger Horizons, LLC, last week. Hoodye and Lampkin spoke about their September show, entitled Vivid: Living As Color. The exhibit revealed a compelling portrait of law enforcement during these times of struggle and stress.

Called, “Endangered Species,” Hoodye gives a window on the attacks on law enforcement and cries of, “Defund the Police” through his unique lens of being behind the badge. The badge is stunning in both its composition and movement, as well as its message. It may be a message that is not what you initially thought.

 

Endangered Species,” 2021. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission.

 

In his conversation with Lampkin, they talked about how “Endangered Species” came about, and Hoodye’s statement and homage to his brothers and sisters in blue, many who he trained and equipped to do the jobs they do.

Lampkin also works in law enforcement and asked how art could be used to help officers deal with the ugly things they face.

Hoodye answered:

“We’re seen. There is someone out there who sees you and they see you in a way that brings others in who want to see and be seen.”

Hoodye described his self as a “closet poet” and wrote a poem about that theme.

There are no smiles or frowns.

I am so tiny, you see.

However, I can see that you move to and fro.

The unseen see’s all.

I refuse your glance

Yet, you still stare.

It is possible to only perceive a problem.

But don’t think me unaware.

There is no problem.

 With hearing the word “NO”.

Please, show me your courtesy

To look at Please send meWhen you do this.

I’m just a man.

I’ll try not to bite.

However, that arrogant expression of distain

It would be enough to make a priest fight.

Don’t give up, or you will be disappointed

And I’ll live on.

Feeling a lot like you

Still unseen……an unseen pawn

S. Christopher, used with permission.

 

 

This is the heart of Hoodye’s artwork: whether it is presenting a window on different people and cultures (or subcultures), emphasizing the stark nakedness of our existence, or the duplicity in our personal and political divides. A viewer can enter into another dimension, another viewpoint, and is often confronted directly with the realities of their situation.

“The art that I try to make, I try to bring everything in,” Hoodye said to Lampkin.

Hoodye made a more important point in my interview about the importance of seeing others. They are what they are

“It’s like the homeless, the idea that they are not always seen,” he said.

“We dehumanize them, we don’t look them in the eyes, instead we look around them; they ask for money, we ignore them. If you’re going to do that, at least look them in the eye. That’s fair, and that’s just.

“People just simply want to be seen. They just want to be recognized. They want to be respected.”

 

“Unseen,” 2019. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission.

 

“John Doe”-Crazy Homeless Man Who Did Not Know His Name, 2020. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission

 

Hoodye told Lampkin that he would not put a price tag on “Endangered Species,” because he did not create it for a private collector or collection—he created it to have an audience—To be seenBy many eyes. Lampkin told him that he wanted it displayed in a museum.

“I don’t want this to be seen by cops, because they know.

[..]

“I want that dialogue, I want that conversation.

“I want it to be seen by other people, so they can have those ‘Aha’ moments.”

The desire to build connections, conversations and common ground between people was evident in the 2017 interview.

“Black Lives Matter,” 2017. Credit: Sean Hoodye, used with permission.

 

“There is so much art out there that we see that is just fluffy, and it’s nice, and it’s pretty, and it does nothing for the brain. I shouldn’t say that—it is does limited things for the brain, it does nothing for the soul,” he emphasized.

“It doesn’t provoke the kind of thought that makes you want to do something, like help someone else, like do something else, like serve something that is greater than yourself. I believe, I’d like to think that I do that, in the hopes that it will help someone, it will serve a greater master, it will serve something bigger than just me, my pocketbook, my family, my life.”

In honor of Sean Hoodye’s tremendous voice and gifts both behind the badge and in civilian life, I salute him and his work in giving officers tools and voice, both on the street and off.

Sean Hoodye can be reached at Art By Hoodye to connect with him and view his art.

About Post Author

Follow Us