Amazon has reportedly ended its financial support of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in Riverside, California. According to ARTNews, the multibillion-dollar company made its decision after it found out the institution included an artwork in ant exhibition that was critical of Amazon’s business strategy in the state.
The artwork in question is a triptych of screen prints by Toni Sanchez, a student at the University of California, that is part of the “Life Logistics” exhibition, which ran from January 7, 2023 to June 4, 2023. The artwork depicts an Amazon warehouse with flames beneath it. The lettering that surrounds the warehouse reads, “Burn them all down.”
According to the Center, the exhibition “focused on the themes of economic security, environmental justice, worker exploitation, and tighter regulations on the logistics-industry presence in the area.”
Last week, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the chief officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, posted a leaked document to X (formerly known as Twitter), which revealed some of Amazon’s business and public relations strategies for next year.
“We will not donate to the Cheech,” the document reads. “We will not continue to support organizations that did not result in measurable positive impact in our brand and reputation. Additionally, we will not fund organizations that have positioned themselves antagonistically toward our interests.”
In 2022 and 2023, Amazon gave $5,000 to the Center. And because “[Sanchez] … gave an interview expressing hostility towards Amazon,” no other donations would be made.
Riverside Art Museum director Drew Oberjuerge said the first time she heard about Amazon cutting ties with the Center was through the leaked document.
“Neither payment was designated for an exhibition, and the company has not communicated any questions or concerns about an artwork or requested the return of its donations,” Oberjuerge said in a statement. “We believe in supporting artists and curators who challenge, surprise, delight, annoy and anger. It’s through this dialogue we better understand our shared experience.”
To learn more about the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture click here.