Within 2 Seconds, the Shooting of Tamir Rice (painting)
Artist: Tom Megalis
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Commentators and the general public
Description of Artwork: This mixed media painting depicts the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice who, in 2014, was gunned down by a Cleveland police officer. The painting was accepted into the 2017 Juried Visual Arts Exhibition sponsored by the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Art Festival.
The Incident: The controversy began when Megalis posted a video of himself talking about the painting on Facebook. While Megalis intended the painting to be an expression of his own outrage and sadness, the public interpreted it as an exploitation of an African American tragedy. The backlash from the public was vehement and excruciating enough to make the artist question going through with the show. The artist said that he "must stop the pain, out of respect."
Results of Incident: Because of the outrage and upset that the painting caused, Megalis believed it would be prudent to remove the painting from the exhibition. The festival at which the exhibit took place was neutral and encouraged the artist to do what he thought was best. This incident raises questions of cultural appropriation and whether artists of one group, gender or race may make art about subjects pertaining to other races and cultures.
A White Artist’s Painting of Tamir Rice’s Shooting Sparks Heated Debate in Pittsburgh, artnet magazine, May 30, 2017
For art’s sake: Tom Megalis should show his painting at Three Rivers Arts Festival, THE EDITORIAL BOARD - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 2017
Arts Festival artist withdraws Tamir Rice painting after controversy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2017