MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Controversy over a new sculpture is forcing the Walker Art Center to make changes less than a week before the park reopens.
Protesters staged demonstrations over the past two days criticizing the piece called “Scaffold.”
L.A.-based artist Sam Durant wanted to raise awareness of capital punishment, yet he drew from one of the darkest moments in Minnesota history.
Demonstrators have vowed to show up at the Walker every day until the two-story wooden structure comes down.
Many find it offensive because it’s inspired, in part, by the 1862 hanging of 38 Dakota tribe members in Mankato, which is the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Initially, the Walker Art Center’s director expressed regret for not consulting members of the Native American community but said she hoped it would lead to a conversation.
That did not sit well with those who find the sculpture offensive.
Protesters showed up at the sculpture for the past two days. There was also backlash on social media.
The structure definitely started a conversation, but not necessarily the one the Walker intended.
“I hate the whole idea, ‘Well, it’s going to start a conversation.’ You start a conversation in a controlled setting, you don’t set it here for kids to use like a jungle gym,” Dan Buck said. “I mean, white people used to come and watch us get lynched. So to have this thing here as entertainment just kind of adds insult to that injury.
This Wednesday, officials from the Walker will sit down with spiritual Dakota elders to discuss how and when the structure will be dismantled. The sculpture garden reopens next Saturday.
The artist, Sam Durant, is expected to also be in town this week. According to the Walker’s executive director, Durant is open to many outcomes including the removal of the sculpture, saying, “It’s just wood and metal — nothing compared to the lives and histories of the Dakota people.”