Jonathan Harris’ Famed ‘Critical Race Theory’ Painting Finally Goes Home

SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2022, 2 PM — Last December, the world learned about Detroit artist, Jonathan Harris, and his Critical Race Theory painting when the artwork began its viral trek around the globe.

The artist has since become an international phenom – first appearing in local media, followed by a plethora of national appearances, including MSNBC with both Joy Reid and Ayman Mohyeldin.

A 24”x 36” oil composition on canvas, Critical Race Theory struck nerves in viewers around the world, compelling the artist to offer and sell thousands of fine art prints of it to supporters, locally, nationally, and across nearly every continent. Arguably, the most famous and sought-after art image of the times, there is scarcely a soul who hasn’t seen and discussed the painting. But, despite many inquiries fielded by the gallery, the original work was already sold before the viral adventure even began.

Acquired by a local Detroit collector when it appeared in Harris’ TRIPTYCH exhibit at the gallery in November, 2021, Critical Race Theory slipped slightly under the radar on opening night, dwarfed by bigger, bolder compositions by Harris and two other artists, Terrell Anglin and Crystal Starks-Webb.

The collector, who is a friend and frequent visitor to the gallery, had been unable to make the reception and caught a glimpse of the painting from the next day’s photos. She said “it spoke to her immediately” but she was also surprised that it had not been purchased the night before – like so many other works in the show, appearing in photos with red dots and proud, new collectors beside them. Without further question, she rushed right over to claim the piece.

As the painting quietly occupied its corner in the TRIPTYCH exhibit for nearly an entire month after sale, no one could have predicted the wild ride it was about to begin – for art and culture’s sake and for Harris, the artist.

The collector, who preferred to remain anonymous while Critical Race Theory appeared in the spotlight, will finally take possession of the painting in a private setting on Sunday, March 20, 2022. “This is the perfect example of a picture being worth a thousand words,” she shared earlier in the Metro Times. “I appreciate the opportunity to be a caretaker of this work, especially at a time when the truth can be viewed as an inconvenience to cover up rather than an inflection point to reconsider what we’ve collectively been taught.”

We are delighted to put it in her hands and we invite you to join us on Sunday at 2:00 pm to share in this next moment in the exciting life of a painting!

Jonathan Harris’ “Critical Race Theory” painting staged at Irwin House Gallery

Sunday, March 20, 2022 @ 2 PM | Irwin House Gallery, 2351 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48208. RSVP appreciated: 313.932.7690 or