Tyre Nichols’ Photos Are on Billboards in Palm Springs as Moving Tribute to His Creativity

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

California's Coachella Valley has been transformed into a site-specific art exhibition. Called Desert X, the event features 12 international artists using the desert as their playground. This year includes a touching tribute as Tyre Nichols has been included in the lineup. The young Black father was passionate about photography before being brutally beaten by Memphis police officers in early January 2023. Three days later, he died from his injuries. Now, his work has returned to California—where he spent the better part of his life—in a moving display.

Nichols' photographs of Memphis landscapes and architecture adorn billboards along a Palm Springs highway. Photography was a creative outlet that helped him when he moved to Tennessee in 2020 and gave him a reason to go out and explore his surroundings.

“It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people,” Nichols wrote of his photography. “My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the ‘norm' and writing it down or speaking it.”

For the organizers of Desert X, the installation was a way to not only honor Nichols but all victims of institutional racism.

“Here the silent beauty of these levitated images stands in stark contrast with the terror experienced by Nichols and so many others on the shoulder below. But as with the vision the message is also one of hope: hope that with restrictions on pretextual stops California can lead the way in police reform; hope that together we can create a just society in which the fragile and beautiful talents of the likes of Tyre Nichols can flourish and grow.”

Nichols' installation is supported by the Palm Springs Public Art Commission and on view—along with the work of 11 other artists—through May 7, 2023. Desert X asks those looking to support Nichols to donate to the GoFundMe created by Nichols' mother.

The photography of Tyre Nichols is being displayed on billboards along a highway in Palm Springs.

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

Nichols was brutally beaten by officers in Memphis after a routine traffic stop and died from his injuries three days later.

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

Nichols, who grew up in California, was passionate about photography and spent his free time pursuing this hobby.

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

He is now one of 12 artists participating in the Desert X site-specific art exhibition in California's Coachella Valley.

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

His photography is on view until May 7, 2023.

Tyre Nichols Photography Installation at Desert X 2023

Desert X: Website | Facebook | Instagram

All images via Lance Gerber. My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Desert X.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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