Wet Plate photographer, Shane Balkowitsch, has cancelled his plans to erect a mural of climate activist, Greta Thunberg, on the outside wall of a bakery. Mr Balkowitsch did a 20-minute photoshoot with Ms Thunberg in October 2019 when she visited the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas.
The portraits were generally well-received, and the portrait titled “Standing For Us All” was donated by the photographer to the Library of Congress.
The popularity of this made Mr Balkowistch propose a seven foot mural of the side of a building in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Despite the fact that the mural would have been funded by the artist and photographer himself, many local residents were opposed to the artwork.
Many were only aware of the mural after Mr Balkowitsch secured permission from the builder’s owner and bakery’s tenant, as well as gaining an approval from the city planning staff.
He also got the idea featured on local news.
When the news station shared the article to their Facebook page, residents expressed displeasure at the mural, in their thousands.
The majority of the 1,200 comments published thus far seem to be critical of the idea.
One person wrote: “How about they put it on the side of the refuse trucks, locally.
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“With an inscription saying, ‘more info on the inside’.
Another offered their own idea on what could be put on the wall, and said: “Seriously!
“Can’t we put something of importance from North Dakota on the building!
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“Our state’s history is flooded with important people, Native Americans, pioneers, explorers, presidents, inventors.
“Seriously! This is the worst idea ever!
“I would rather see Chief Sitting Bull, or Chief Four Bears on the building.”
A third wrote: “This and she is a far cry from being a good representative of North Dakota beliefs.”
Other comments mentioned intentions to boycott the business, Brick Oven Bakery, or vandalising the mural.
Unwilling to put the business at risk for the mural, Mr Balkowitsch and the bakery quickly withdrew their mural application.
The photographer says that the mural was more about art and history than politics.
He told The Bismarck Tribune: “There was no motivation other than install a very important piece of history that was captured here in North Dakota, in Bismarck — but I guess Bismarck doesn’t want it.
““I feel for the bakery. I can’t have some business being threatened for my work.
“It’s a picture of a 17-year-old girl; that’s all it is to me. Her message and stuff, that’s her message.
“As an artist, it’s my duty to capture the history surrounding her, and the fact that she came to North Dakota, and the reservation down at Standing Rock.”
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