Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Creator of Emmett Till ‘Open Casket’ at Whitney Responds to Backlash



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Recently a new painting has been put on display at the Whitney Museum, in New York City, that has aroused many conflicts between people. The painting of “Open Casket” by Dana Schutz’, was an inspiration of Emmett Till’s death. This painting has brought backlash, and African-Americans saying that the “white” artist has no right to be painting black’s pain and suffering. While others believe that her race does not matter and since it was an iconic symbol of the civil rights movement, her race should not matter. The painting in the past days has been blocked by black artists and has brought hate comments to Schutz. She has recently responded by saying that the painting itself was not easy to draw and she understands people’s questioning of her right to draw it, but it should be “an open discussion”. Schutz claims that she was inspired to create the exhibit due to all the 2016 killings of African Americans by police officers. This reminds me of the civil rights movements, because Emmett Till’s death and open casket pictures played a major role in the movement. In my opinion I believe what Dana Schutz drew was not meant to be wrong, she was only inspired by what was going on around her. I also understand the backlash going on about this, since Emmett Till was such a strong symbol in the civil rights movement, but I feel all this hate shouldn’t be let out on the artist simply because of her race. What do you guys think, is it right for the artist to receive hate about the picture? Is the painting considered culturally inappropriate? Should there be this much controversy about the painting?

45 comments:

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  2. I understand where the backlash is coming from, but I don't think the intention was to hurt the black community. Till's mother chose to have an open casket funeral because she wanted people to see what was done to her son and understand her pain. I think by creating this piece, Schutz is honoring Mamie Till's wishes. I have always seen art as something to push the boundaries and force discussion, and that is exactly what this piece has done. However, I think it is also important to consider the other side (like in any disagreement) as equally valid. I hope this painting will be a part of the solution to the issues we see today, instead of adding to the issue.

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  3. I agree with Amanda in thinking that this painting was done in an attempt to relate and force discussion about this important matter. To me, art as a form of expression shouldn't be limited by race or other similar factors. If it has the power to make you feel and think, then it is doing it's job. Much like the book we are currently reading "The Things They Carried," the lines between reality and stories are blurred and it is difficult to tell what is real. However, it is my belief, and a possible theme of the story that reality doesn't matter in the larger context of things. If a made up story can impact an individual-the meaning is real, and that is what is important. The artist isn't attempting to make profit or limit contributions from other artists relating to this death, and that is why I have trouble sympathizing with the protesters that say the painting is insensitive and should be taken down.

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  4. I also agree with Amanda. I do not think that the intention of the painting was to offend the black community. I also do not think that this painting is culturally inappropriate. Emmett Till's death is definitely relevant today, and I believe ignoring the brutality of the past is more inappropriate than emphasizing it. I do not think there should be much controversy surrounding Shutz's painting. There is absolutely nothing wrong about a white person painting about black history. Saying that a white person cannot paint about black history is pretty much claiming that they cannot relate to their history, which in my opinion is absurd. If someone is white, that does not mean that they cannot understand and relate to history of another race.

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  5. I think the picture is culturally appropriate and is sign of empathy coming from whites. The color of the author is irrelevant to the message and people who disagree are proponents of the belief that a certain type of art is race-exclusive. This is the ideal and mindset that Civil Rights leaders were trying to fight 50 years ago. A piece of art that starts dialogue such as this has done it's job well.

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    1. I agree with Josh as you can see in my comment below.

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  6. I highly doubt the author was trying to offend the African-American community. I also agree that there is nothing wrong with a white person expressing her empathy, but I can understand why people might be upset over this since it is still a sensitive topic. I would not say that color is completely irrelevant in this case, but it is disappointing to see that there are still such racial divisions in 2017.

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  7. I agree that there were no intentions of offending people with the painting and I don't think the hate is justified. Though the art does hold a grim and explicit image, the image is the reality of 1950's America. With that being said, I do understand where the backlash is coming from as the image depicts a deep rooted controversy and is so emotional. But as Amanda said, Emmitt Till's mother had an open casket at the funeral to allow people to feel her pain and see the horrors which had occurred.

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  8. I believe that the maker of this art did not have harmful intent when making the art. The race of the artist is something that should not matter, and limiting what someone can or cant do by their race is simply wrong. I mean she even said she was inspired by the the wrongful killings of African Americans by police officers. The hate comments she is receiving are completely wrong.

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  9. I believe that this is a powerful piece of artwork and is culturally significant in bringing awareness about our nations dark past in order to deepen today's society's perspectives. I feel she should not be under so much back fire because she created the art to push for views in order to bring improvement and prevention of crisis's like Emmett Till's death. Therefore, I feel this is a positive piece of art work.

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    1. I agree with you, stating that it's a positive piece of art work, for she was trying to bring awareness to the problems surrounding her at that point. I also agree with you that she shouldn't be receiving so many negative comments, since she was just trying to get a point across that many others were and are still trying to do.

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  10. I believe that this artwork was not meant to offend anyone, but it does hold some dark things. I do not think that she should be receiving this much hatred as it was not her intentions. I understand why there is so much cultural controversy, as this artwork does expresses some dark things about America.

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  11. It is amazing to me how the left continues to legitimize the claim that blacks are victims of police brutality more than other races. There is absolutely no statistical evidence to support this claim and I think this false narrative is taking away a lot of attention away from the real problems facing black Americans. Blacks need to stop playing the victim card and start paying attention to the legitimate problems facing this country.

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    1. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/07/data-police-racial-bias

      Just putting this here. Maybe the "statistical evidence" provided in this article might mean something, but who knows? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    3. 2016 = 258 blacks killed by police officers.

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    6. I suggest reading the article before commenting, as it appears that your comment is irrelevant to the main issue of this article. This article is focused on an issue of a white artist creating this painting. This is an issue of cultural appropriation.

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    7. John, no one even asked you about this, stop trying to rage bait us.

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    8. Schutz claims that she was inspired to create the exhibit due to all the 2016 killings of African Americans by police officers.

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    9. Step 1: Deny reality.

      Step 2: Complain about black people telling others what to do.

      Step 3: Tell black people what to do.

      Step 4: Profit?

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    10. You at least can't deny that racism still exist in America. Look at the article below.

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  12. I think it is a little absurd for the black community to criticize an artist based on the color of her skin. She was clearly not trying to add more drama to such a big problem of our society today, instead, I feel that she was trying to bring awareness to our society by making a painting of a tragic event considered an influential symbol of the Civil Rights movement. I do not believe the painting can be considered culturally inappropriate because it is historically accurate and I think that our society have to realize that what is happening today and what happened 50 years ago can be quite similar. I see nothing wrong about a white artist making a painting of black history and I hope other people do similar things as well.

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  14. It is uncalled for the black community to discriminate against the artist and to block her art works due to her skin cooler. I believe that her sin color should not play any role in how people perceive the artwork that is being produced. It would be not right to not allow a viewing of a painting on the idea that because of her skin color she should not be allowed to draw certain ideas or paintings. I do however see where some of these individuals are coming from and how it could be uncomfortable or seen as culturally inappropriate. I however believe that her painting was out of good intentions and should be put on display and allow people like her to continue to draw even if it includes other's history and different cultures.

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  15. I think people need to realize that art is a form of expression and is sometimes meant to raise awareness towards a topic. I feel like the backlash is unnecessary and I admire how the artist is responding to the backlash.

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  17. Artists tend to be judged based on race just as a singer's race is stereotyped into a specific type of music. When the Vietnam war memorial was created, the architect was Chinese, which sparked tons of outrage. However I do not believe the outrage was justified, it seems as though people just want to create drama. The white artist is bringing attention to societal problems and the troubling racial history of Anerica. However, the rebuke of his art due to his color is inherently racist and exclusive, going against the equality promoted by the civil rights Union. An wrist should be able to express himself in any way.

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  18. Blacks should not be outraged at a white artist's depiction of Emmett Till. Just because an artist is white should not prevent him from portraying the suffering that blacks have suffered. I understand the point of view that the blacks are coming from, but they need to put the rage behind them and accept the logical reasoning that not all whites are bad people.

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  19. I think the picture is culturally appropriate and is sign of empathy coming from whites. The color of the author is irrelevant to the message and people who disagree are proponents of the belief that a certain type of art is race-exclusive. I do not believe the painting can be considered culturally inappropriate because it is historically accurate and I think that our society have to realize that what is happening today and what happened 50 years ago can be quite similar. I see nothing wrong about a white artist making a painting of black history and I hope other people do similar things as well.

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  20. I personally don't think that there should be all this controversy over the painting and the artist's race but I understand it. Many blacks probably feel that if they were to draw something about their pain, it would be ignored and wouldn't get all the attention a white artist is getting. There does need to be more discussion and it's good someone of another race is acknowledging the pain and suffering of black people.

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  21. I feel that it is entirely irrational that some people can believe that black's should only paint other blacks in art. This man advocates for artistic segregation as stated in an interview with Vice News from Tuesday night. It is odd that someone would try to censor artistic decisions and pieces of art just because they depict a sensitive topic for the black community.

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  22. I don't think the artist deserves the criticism she did. Perhaps if she displayed some kind of ignorance on the subject, but besides her race there is nothing controversial about the art piece. It may be true that she may not fully understand the struggles of the black community, but I believe they should be welcoming and be happy she is aware of these issues and trying to understand. David makes an interesting comparison the the Vietnam war memorial created by a Chinese architect, although I would say the controversy over the art piece is even less deserved since it isn't an official war memorial for everyone to visit; other artists can create art like this as well, and there is no reason for people to care so much about another artist's interpretation.

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  23. I think that when considering cultural appropriation, intent is very important to consider. In the case of this artist, I, like others, feel that she was not trying to exploit the tragedies of America's past for her personal profit or fame, but rather to draw attention to problems that African Americans face in modern times. I feel her painting is an act of empathy, of kindness, and I am personally baffled that certain members of the black community want to reject this act.

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  24. I think that anybody has the right to make art about anything. I think that art is a way that people of all races and cultures can connect, and as long as it is not overly offensive, it doesn't matter what an artist makes. I believe that an artist is entitled to his or her vision.

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  25. I also do not believe that the artist should be receiving this criticism. This is an extremely pressing issue in our country so I believe that anyone has the right to express their thoughts on the issue. It's fine if there's disagreement about the topic that is painted/conveyed as everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, that disagreement should not be brought out on the artist.

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  26. I feel like the artist shouldn't receive backlash for creating that art piece. I doubt that the artist had any bad intentions in the creation of her artwork or wanted to offend or mock the Africans American society. Racial discrimination is the basis of the backlash against the white artist, which is actually racial discrimination in itself. So I believe the backlash is sort of self-contradictory. And generally, art is open to everyone. Every artist should be given the ability to depict anything that inspires him or her.

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  27. I don't think Schutz deserves the backlash she is getting. Like what Cameron said, though she may profit from the painting, it is the message she illustrates that truly matters. She is not defaming or slandering Emmett Till or the Civil Rights Movement. No, rather she is helping to bring attention to the racial issues that still plague America today just as they did during Emmett Till's and the Civil Rights Movement's time. I understand where the criticism may come from, but these issues affected everyone; though they have the most impact on African Americans and other minorities, they are not completely "owned" by any one group.

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  28. I understand where Shutz is coming from in her creation of this painting, and I appreciate her efforts to honor the black people who were killed in 2016, but I believe that this was not her place to express this as a white artist who has no personal scope on this issue. In creating this painting, Schutz is acting as though she is affected directly by this issue, though because she is white, she is truly only a spectator. Thus, I do believe that some of this backlash is deserved.

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    1. Mr. C, not sure this is supposed to be here.

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  30. I agree with the comments above, and I understand that Schutz did not intend to hurt anyone while creating this painting. Some blacks would not want a white artist to seem like she understands the pain blacks went through during the movement, but it should not cause this much controversy.

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  31. After reading these comments I agree with a lot of people. Shultz did not mean to hurt people and he was simply creating art. Anyone has the right to express their thoughts and this should not be an issue here.

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