A recently unveiled mural about police by the Detroit Institute of Arts faced backlash for being “pro-cops”.
Last weekend, the DIA posted the images of the newly unveiled mural on social media. The work, titled To Serve And Protest, was first commissioned by the museum in 2018 and made by artist Nicole Macdonald. The work was created for the Sterling Heights Police Department and was part of the Partners in Public Art (PiPA) program of the museum. The mural depicts police officers holding each other’s hands and bowing before the American flag. Speaking to Macomb Daily earlier this month, Charles Garling (director of studio programs, DIA) said that the mural was a “wonderful example” of combining community input and artistic vision.
However, the mural met with public backlash as soon as the post was put up on social media. On both Twitter and Instagram, many users called out the museum for being “pro-cop” with the work. Many others derided it as “propaganda” and accused the museum of being “out of touch” with ground reality. The museum soon deleted the posts and later posted a clarification for deleting them, which was also deleted sometime later.
Speaking to Artnews later, Detroit Insitute of Arts said they recognize that much have happened since the work was commissioned in 2018. They also said that they will continue investing in the community, especially in the BIPOC community, to give them a voice. However, the anger against the Detroit Institute of Arts persisted. Criticism came from DIA Staff Action, a group made up of current and former employees who have made multiple accusations against the museum in the past. Macdonald, who created the mural, said that changes were made to it without her permission and vowed to never work with DIA again.