- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2016

Minority students at a Massachusetts college were so upset by the thought of witnessing anti-Trump art featuring KKK imagery that administrators hid it behind drapes.

Salem State University recently shut down its latest Winfisky Gallery Exhibit after students complained about a painting of Ku Klux Klan members. The piece by artist Garry D. Harley was meant to serve as commentary on Republican Donald Trump’s presidential election victory on Nov. 8, but his young critics did not care. They said KKK depictions should not available for public consumption.

Faculty and staff were notified on Tuesday that the exhibit would reopen with a caveat: Mr. Harley’s work would be hidden behind drapes.

“After a candid exchange of ideas and opinions, students and faculty reached a number of agreements on how the exhibit will be modified prior to its reopening,” administrators wrote on the campus website.

The school made the following changes to placate students:

  • The gallery includes a statement that acknowledges the concerns raised about the exhibit.
  • A public reflection board is available.
  • Artist statements of intent are available.
  • A guide is on hand to give “reflective tours.”
  • “Pipe and drape will enclose the piece titled ‘Meeting under a black moon on the plains of despair,’ and the narrative will be posted prominently outside of the drapes, so that viewing will be clearly intentional on the part of the observer.”

Inside Higher Ed reported Thursday that Mr. Harley’s attempts to convince students that artists should be able to present uncomfortable images fell on deaf ears.

“Students rejected Harley’s explanations,” the website reported.

The artist added that he was “uncomfortable” about the message that was being sent by the school’s decision and its students.

“I can’t imagine that it won’t draw even more interest, and maybe that’s OK,” he said, Higher Ed reported.

Salem State University’s controversy echoes that of another Massachusetts school, Hampshire College. Its administrators recently removed the American flag from campus after President-elect Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Angry students stole one flag and burned another before dawn on Veterans Day.

“After some preliminary consultation with campus constituents (much more is needed), we decided on Friday that we will not fly the U.S. flag or any other flags on our college flagpole for the time being,” administrators wrote on an official Facebook page Nov. 21. “We hope this will enable us in the near term to instead focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”


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