Student artwork sparks controversy


Claire Morgan - The State Hornet

Art by student Jacob Lewis has been getting attention for having subject matter that is controversial. Some of his pieces contain pigs wearing police uniforms, and one contains the phrase “Fuck the Police.”

Raul Hernandez

An art display by Sacramento State senior Jacob Lewis is getting attention for depicting the controversial subject of police brutality.

Some of Lewis’s paintings and drawings contain overweight pigs wearing police uniforms while shooting guns and holding money bags.  One piece contains the phrase “fuck the police.”

Lewis said he was influenced by the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, as well as other acts of police brutality that occurred in 2016.

“Not all cops are to blame for the situation, but I’m basically just trying to bring attention to the fact there are a lot of bad cops out there,” he said. (Story continues below slideshow)

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For Lewis, art can be an avenue for expression, especially when it comes to controversial issues. He said art like his has always been around as it is a testament to people’s freedom to express their opinions nonviolently — a way that can spark conversation and ideas.

Claire Morgan – The State Hornet
Sacramento State student artist Jacob Lewis discusses his art with a guest at his exhibit reception in the R.W. Witt Gallery Sept. 21. His art has been getting notable attention for depicting controversial subjects.

Some students thought the art was offensive, including graduate student Arianna Perez. She said that Lewis’ works shouldn’t be considered art because she takes law enforcement “seriously.”

“Police officers put on a uniform and go out to work every single day, and to view them or perceive them as something like this, it’s pretty upsetting,” Perez said.

Art education major Tamara Duran attended the Thursday night reception at the R.W. Witt Gallery and, unlike Perez, Duran said she did not feel offended by the pieces on display.

“I do admit that the police in our country are not acting the way we would think police should act, but there are still some good policeman out there,” Duran said. “I think this really brings awareness to people about what police do and what they should be doing.”

Duran said she has also observed that more people are noticing the political statements that artists are making.  She said she thinks it is important to “get to know what that person is thinking and seeing another point of view.” (Story continues below)

Claire Morgan – The State Hornet
Guests peruse a displayed work by Jacob Lewis at the R.W. Witt Gallery Sept. 21.

While people may consider the paintings controversial, the Dean of the College Arts and Letters, Sheree Meyer, said Sac State supports the art being displayed.  

Art often prompts dialogue and conversation and expresses a variety of opinions,” Meyer said.

Photos and additional reporting by Claire Morgan