Guerrilla artists invaded the Whitney to protest its ties to tear gas.
Museum board member Warren Kanders is the CEO of Safariland, a defense company that supplies tear gas to the Border Patrol.
After border agents fired tear gas at migrants legally seeking asylum, activists with the group ArtvWar did the reverse of an art heist, and snuck painting into the museum. The protest exhibit featured two paintings based on photos of asylum seekers Maria Meza and her children running from tear gas. The art is titled “Mother and Two Daughters in Tijuana, Mexico.” The activists credited Warren Kanders as the artist of the paintings.
Safariland products were also used on BLM protesters in Ferguson and Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.
Nearly 100 Whitney staffers also asked Kanders to resign in a letter stating, “So many of us are working toward a more equitable and inclusive institution. We work to bring in artists who are immigrants and artists of color to the collection. We create programming for youth and families who are affected by current immigration policy. Upon learning of Kander’s business dealings, many of us working on these initiatives feel uncomfortable in our positions.”
Kanders responded to the Whitney staffers, stating, “Safariland’s role as a manufacturer is to ensure the products work, as expected, when needed. Safariland’s role is not to determine when and how they are employed.”