Michael Rakowitz, an Iraqi-American artist and professor based in Chicago, celebrated the opening of his installation A Color Removed on July 14 in Cleveland’s contemporary art venue Spaces in honor of the late Tamir Rice. He was joined by Rice’s mother Samaria Rice who was an artistic collaborator on the project.
The installation was inspired by color and according to the New York Times sought to ask if you can remove a color and a symbol of safety from an entire city. Rakowitz worked in collaboration with graphic designer Amir Berbić (MFA 2004) to create collection bins that were placed around the city of Cleveland and encouraged people to donate the orange items that would become the focus of the installation. These items are representative of the orange safety cap the Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann who shot Tamir Rice said had been missing from Rice’s plastic toy gun when he shot the 12-year-old boy in 2014. Loehmann claimed that because of this he was unable to distinguish whether or not Rice’s gun was real or fake. “When that minor object got isolated, it was outrageous and infuriated me, but at the same time I thought, ‘That’s something to talk about, because we’re talking about color,’” Rakowitz said. Orange pieces of paper displayed throughout the gallery offered information on the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Center, the after school arts and mentoring facility Samaria Rice is working to open in honor of her son’s legacy. A Color Removed will remain on display through September 30.