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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Black artists want Whitney Museum to destroy work of white artist

Black artists are protesting a painting by a white artist, Dana Schutz of New York. They claim she is racially insensitive and they should know because they are black and she is white.

The work in question is titled "Open Casket" (2016) and is based on a famous photo from the funeral of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American child who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. 

Till was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman and the racists beat him and lynched him. 

The Schutz painting depicts the teen's body lying in an open coffin; his face is mutilated and his chest is turned toward the viewer. His mother requested an open coffin so that all could witness the horrible brutality of the racist attack of which he was a victim.

The painting is currently on display at the 2017 Whitney Biennial of Friday. Several black artists physically took turns standing in front of the artwork for several hours to block it from being viewed by the public.

One artist, Parker Bright, (whose surname is obviously an oxymoron) wore a t-shirt with the slogan "Black Death Spectacle" on the back and "No lynch mob" on the front.

"I wanted to confront people with a living, breathing black body," he told The Guardian

British-born Hannah Black penned an open letter to museum curators regarding the appropriation of black suffering by white artists as another example of systematic racial oppression. She not only wants the painting to be removed, she wants it "destroyed" and "prevented from entering any market of museum."

If you use the appropriation argument, then you would believe that Black's work and the work of other non-white individuals should not be allowed to be hung in museums if the medium is in acrylics. 

Acrylics were invented in 1934 by German chemical company BASF and patented by Otto Rohm and Otto Haas. Both Ottos were white.

If Hannah Black or any other non-white artist uses oil-based paint for their work, they are appropriating the invention of that medium from Flemish artist Jan van Eyck (1390 - 1441). They need to cease and desist.

Then there's the stone carvings that are so ancient, we can only trace them back to the Greeks, India, Egypt and most of Europe. Africa is not in the mix, so if you're black, you ought not to be working in stone.

"The subject matter is not Schutz's," Black posted on Facebook. "White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go."

Now that's presumptuous of Hannah Black.

The subject medium did not originate in black culture. Acrylics, oils and stone as a medium for art have been used first by whites, Egyptians and Indians, not by Africans. 

But so what?

The argument I'm making is just as ridiculous as the argument that one culture cannot use another culture as their subject matter. Our country has become divided all too much and these black artists would only divide us more if we give in to their demand that we destroy another artist's work.

Personally, I don't feel responsible over what white racists have done in the past and making it a current issue only exacerbates the divide we face in this country. 

I feel angry and upset with racism and it's obvious that racism goes both ways.