The move of a student art exhibit, which featured images of self-harm and a noose, from a prominent University of Colorado lobby to a more secluded basement room has sparked a debate about free speech on campus, as well as what responsibility artists have to consider the historical implications of their work.
Kaelen Williams, a senior seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts, created the artwork in question. His exhibit, “Less Than Nothing,” was displayed in the lobby of the Visual Arts Complex briefly last week. Kendall Goduto, who graduated from CU in May with a degree in art history, curated the exhibit. The pair designed promotional posters for the event, which featured the painting of the noose.
As they were installing the exhibit Thursday before the Friday opening of the exhibit, they were informed the posters would be removed because students had complained about them, they said.
Then, Friday morning, they received an email from the chair of the Art and Art History department, Kirk Ambrose, which read in part: “The faculty of Art & Art History met today and determined that the venue for your current BFA Exhibition is inappropriate. After your opening this evening, you have option of moving your work to (Visual Arts Complex) 1B32 by 8am Monday, December 4 …”
Ambrose did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
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