Art or offensive? Painting with racial slur at coffee shop in Muncie causes controversy

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sep. 24, 2014)- A painting that hangs inside 'The Cup,' a quiet cafe near the Ball State campus, is making a lot of noise.

"It's visual, it's bright and it's in your face," said local artist, Nathan Friday.

Throughout the month of September, Friday has several  paintings displayed in the coffee shop, but people are talking about one in particular.

"I wanted people to see it who might not be comfortable with it. I want them to have to see it and say it in their heads," said Friday.

Friday says his goal was to spark a conversation, but he wasn't expecting some of the hostile reactions that have come from his work.

"I decided to use art as a medium to get my voice heard and have a dialogue," said Friday.

The picture titled 'Birds Flying High' shows a pigeon, and a five-letter "N" word, that’s widely viewed as a racial slur towards African Americans.

"When I saw the picture, it offended me. It offended me because of the nature of the word," said Michael Herd.

Herd was so offended by the painting, he ripped it off the wall, and confronting the owner of the cafe.  Herd demanded that it be taken down.

"I have spent money there. I was offended when I saw that painting. It was racist," said Herd.

Martin George, owns 'The Cup', he says the painting has started a conversation among his customers and the community.

“Some of it has been very positive, some of it has been people saying 'we feel uncomfortable' and  some of it has been very negative," said George.

"I don’t see it as him personally attacking anyone. It's not going to stop me from coming to The Cup," said Ball State student, Corey Caldwell.

"Having a dialogue about something like this is progressive.  It's forcing people to think and speak aloud," said Friday.

The art exhibit is a revolving gallery. The painting will come down at the end of the month and be given to the person who purchased it. Martin says he has no plans of removing it before October.