Dana Schutz Analysis

Decent Essays

Critically acclaimed Dana Schutz is a thoughtful artist. Setting aside any subjective critique of her work, the visceral nature of her pieces challenges the viewer and herself. So, it comes to no surprise that her recent painting, depicting the corpse of civil rights icon Emmett Till, would spark a controversy. However, it is a disturbing aspect of our society when art has become a controlled medium. The case of Dana Schutz is one of many examples. The history behind Emmett Till’s violent death is sickening. An African-American boy born in 1941, Till was described as a child who, although faced with family hardships at times, lived happily. In 1955, he was visiting relatives in Mississippi, and during a quick visit to the grocery store, was seen speaking to the store’s white female proprietor, Carolyn Bryant. Bryant falsely accused Till of making unwanted sexual advances towards her, which prompted Bryant’s husband and half-brother to trail after Till, abduct, beat, and mutilate him. His disfigured body was found at the riverbanks of the Tallahatchie river three days later. Till’s distraught mother arranged for an open casket funeral to expose the horrors her son suffered at the hands of racism, something the media often chose to ignore in the 1950’s Jim Crow-era South. Photographs taken of Till’s body drew national attention to the issue of racial violence, one of the prominent catalysts for the African-American civil rights movement.
Fast forward to the winter

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