High School ‘Art Project’ Asks Students to Stand on American Flag
September 1, 2013 - 11:23 am
A high school art teacher recreated an exhibit by a revolutionary Communist from 1989 that has the entire town of Paducah, Kentucky, up in arms.
Students at a Kentucky high school were encouraged to step on an American flag that had been placed on the floor as part of an art display, outraging parents and students.
The display at McCracken County High School, was a re-creation of “Dread” Scott Tyler’s 1989 installation titled “The Proper Way to Display an American Flag.”
A photograph shows a music stand on top of the flag that had been placed in a hallway, in a story first reported by Kathleen Fox, a reporter with The Paducah Sun.
As part of the art exhibit, students were encouraged to stand on the flag and write their reflections on how they felt standing on the flag.
Local residents filled social networking sites with their outrage over the flag desecration with many calling for the art teacher to be fired.
“The teacher should be fired and run out of town,” wrote one outraged Paducah resident. “I have a son serving to protect this flag at this very moment.”
“It is a sad day when the symbol of this great nation is relegated to occupy the floor,” a reader wrote. “It is a truly sorrowful day when the one who placed it there has the nerve to ask, ‘How does it make you feel?’”
“I doubt this teacher intended the disrespect her art project exhibited,” one reader wrote. “But nonetheless, it was really a despicable assignment.”
Art teacher Shand Stamper has since apologized for the controversial art display – telling The Paducah Sun that it was not a specifically assigned project. The newspaper reported she sent a written letter of apology to school administrators.
“I love our flag and the nation it stands for. I love the freedom I enjoy because of our brave veterans. I feel sick and deeply sad that through my actions I have dishonored these men and women and also poorly represented you all,” she wrote in a letter obtained by the newspaper. “(To say) I am devastated by my actions bringing outrage and negativity on you is a gross understatement.”
It turns out that this exhibit is rather famous — in some artistic quarters. Dread Scott Tyler, a self-described revolutionary Communist, created it when he was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago. What deep thoughts attended this artistic gem?
I made some forays and experiments into installation work for audience participation because I wanted to do artwork people couldn’t just dismiss the politics of. Whether they liked it or didn’t like it, whether they agreed with me or didn’t agree with me, I wanted them to have some engagement with the work. So even if they thought, “this guy’s a real assh*le and he has no clue what he’s talking about,” I wanted them to be very much bound up with saying, “this guy’s a real assh*le and he has no clue what he’s talking about.” And have that be part of the work. I started doing these works that had photo montages on the walls, and encouraged people to take a copy and explain why they chose to take it in the book below. So it was this participatory piece. I started doing these, and I kind of thought they were successful.
Yes, Mr. Tyler. You’re a real assh*le and don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.