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2Way: Andrianna Campbell on the Emmett Till Painting at Whitney Biennial

CAMILA: Now a look at the Whitney Biennial, which showcases young and often lesser known artists. This year, there was a controversial piece by Dana Schutz, a painting looking inside the open casket of a young Emmett Till.

CAMILA: So, Acacia, you went and saw the piece?

ACACIA: Yeah, I went down last night, right at closing time. There were people there but no one was really paying particular attention to the controversial Schutz painting except one man, Robert Vail, visiting from Ohio. He had been before but came back specifically to see it. He was struck by it.

VAIL1: I think the very fact that the canvas itself has been mutilated shows real brutality. I don’t think it’s a superficial exploitation. ACACIA: The piece has been controversial in part because the painter, Dana Schulz, is white. Some black artists have accused her of appropriating black suffering and images of black bodies killed by whites. I spoke to Andrianna Campbell, an African- American art historian and a scholar who focuses on American modern and contemporary art about the painting.


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