CINCINNATI, Ohio – Mixed media artist Michael Coppage has received dozens of letters written by angry white people for his use of white monkeys to depict Caucasian Americans.
“It started a few weeks ago when I started posting progress shots to my Instagram account,” Michael Coppage said. (@prosper_jones_)
The letters include racial slurs, threats of violence to both Coppage and his family as well as criticism for stoking the flames of racism, Coppage said.
Coppage has created a series of paintings entitled American Plus where he paints white monkeys in precarious scenarios with African-American men. Two of the paintings are currently hanging on the 3rd and 4th floors of the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Cincinnati. The paintings depict a white monkey sitting atop a black man’s head with a confederate flag as a backdrop implying the black man has been oppressed in some way. The second painting titled Charlottesville has received the most attention. It depicts a mob of angry white baboons. The image is a social commentary about a white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Va Aug. 12, 2018. The rally erupted into violence and left a young woman dead.
“My work is a social commentary about living in America. I’m not racist. America is. My paintings are about the appropriation of African-American culture and it being used to demonize black men,” Coppage said.
Coppage’s paintings will be on display at 21c Museum through June.