PITTSBURGH: The artist of a painting depicting the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice has withdrawn the piece from a Pittsburgh arts festival after an outcry that the white artist was exploiting black pain.
Tom Megalis’ painting “Within 2 Seconds, the Shooting of Tamir Rice” was among 54 works accepted into this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival, according to the Post-Gazette.
Before he delivered the work to the June 2-11 festival, Megalis posted an image of it on Facebook. That’s when the intense reactions started pouring in.
Megalis, a Cleveland resident and a Carnegie Mellon University graduate, said he was shocked by the response. He said his intention was to document his outrage about the police killing of the 12-year-old black Ohio boy.
“That’s the last thing I wanted to do,” he said of the accusations of cultural appropriation. “That’s when I decided to pull the painting” from the exhibition.
The arts festival’s website describes many of the works in the juried show as dealing with “issues of race, gender, immigration and other social concerns.”
The posting has since been removed from the artist’s Facebook page.
In March, an abstract painting of lynching victim Emmett Till on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York was the subject of a protest by a black artist who decried the canvas as “an injustice to the black community” because it was painted by a white woman.
Parker Bright spent March 17 and 18 standing in front of the painting by Dana Schutz, who used historic photographs as inspiration for her depiction of Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955.