Salem State University hides artwork behind curtain to protect students’ feelings

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/12/02/salem-university-hides-artwork-behind-curtain-to-protect-students-feelings/

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Salem State University in Massachusetts erected a curtain in front of a controversial piece of art featuring the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), so that students aren’t inadvertently triggered by seeing it.

As The Daily Caller News Foundation reported earlier this week, Salem State put on a fall art show featuring artwork based on the theme, “State of the Union.” Artist Garry Hurley contributed two paintings to the show, both intended to express hostility toward President-elect Donald Trump and what Hurley saw as his negative effect on the country.

But instead of offending Trump fans, Hurley’s paintings ended up offending liberals and non-white students instead. One of his paintings showed a group of six KKK members standing in a field. The painting provoked a wave of denunciations, which a public discussion a week ago was unable to quell. In response, Salem State shut down the art show over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Now, the show has re-opened, but with a change to protect student sensibilities. The KKK painting had a curtain placed around it, which students must enter in order to view the artwork. Outside, a piece of paper describes the painting and its intent in detail so visitors will know exactly what they’re getting into.

“The overall outcome offers gains for both those concerned about the exhibit and those concerned about freedom of expression and builds on what has been our approach all along: creating dialogue,” Salem State President Patricia Maguire Meservey said in a message to the campus.

Hurley, though, told Inside Higher Ed he was “uncomfortable” about the message the school was sending regarding his work. On the plus side, though, he noted the curtain would certainly attract attention.

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