Artist Protests Lion-Killing Dentist Walter Palmer With Majestic Portrait of Cecil
A Minnesota artist named Mark Balma is using his skills with the paintbrush to eloquently protest dentist Walter Palmer, who has been the subject of international scorn after allegedly killing a well-known protected lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe in early June.
Palmer is currently in hiding—whereabouts unknown—but that hasn’t stopped hoards of people from camping out outside his dental office chanting, waving signs that bear slogans like “rot in hell,” and toting stuffed lions. Young children have even arrived wearing lion costumes and holding signs that read “protect me.”
Palmer has also received an onslaught of Internet hate, channeled largely through the hashtag #WalterPalmer, and celebrities including actress Mia Farrow have spoken out against his actions (and Tweeted his address).
Balma was spotted among protesters yesterday, painting a majestic lion on a large canvas in the parking lot of the dental facility. He plans to donate proceeds from the sale of the painting to the World Wildlife Fund.
“I was inspired to paint a larger-than-life portrait of Cecil at the protest site out of grief for this beautiful creature who was killed for ‘sport,'” Balma told artnet News in an email. “This was my quiet protest for this senseless killing.”
“I have received many offers to purchase the painting,” he noted. “I hope to see it in a public auction and the proceeds donated to a reputable conservation foundation. I have reached out to the WWF to coordinate a donation.”
Balma is known for creating fresco portraits of historically significant figures like Jackie Kennedy, Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher, so it seems natural that he would be drawn to Cecil, who has quickly become an icon of the horrors of hunting for sport.
“I…found the images of Cecil inspiring and spiritual,” Balma said. “I have no plans, at this time, to create more images of Cecil but I am always interested in creating new works that have a connection to social issues in our age.”
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