University Art Exhibit Features Painting of Captain America Holding President Trump's Decapitated Head
College campuses in America today are supposed to be gentle, welcoming places where speech codes, trigger warnings and safe spaces ensure that the tender feelings of students are never offended. Liberal students, anyway. Conservative students can expect no such protections.
An art gallery at the University of Alaska-Anchorage this month displayed a grotesque painting depicting Captain America triumphantly holding up the severed head of President Trump as Hillary Clinton lies at his feet.
Painting Professor Thomas Chung created and presented the piece as part of a faculty art program, KTUU reported.
Chung said he chose to paint the scene because he was upset at the results of the 2016 election.
"I spent days just weeping," he told the station, adding that he was surprised at his own reaction because he is not a "political person."
Chung said he painted actor Chris Evans' face on the superhero and tried to make the work reminiscent of 1980s rock posters "where there's a woman in tattered clothes clinging to a strong male hero's leg."
Is that art gallery a "safe space" for conservative students? Or would such a painting make them feel "triggered," creating a hostile environment for them?
Professor Chung did give those concerns a moment's thought, but soon brushed them aside, putting his own feelings first.
"I was really torn about putting this piece up at a faculty show, because I would never talk about my own political beliefs to my students," Chung asserted, saying he wavered about putting the painting on display out of concern that it might make some students feel uncomfortable. "But I realized that I feel very strongly about this, and I think even students that might be pro-Trump supporters could benefit from having a conversation with me about why I feel this way—why I painted this."
Honestly, if I were a college kid again, I don't know if I'd want to start a "conversation" with someone who had just painted a picture of my president's decapitation. I'd be desperately trying to transfer out of the sick freak's class.
The UAA Chancellor and President doubled down on the school's decision to keep the painting in the Kimura Gallery in two emails to the university community.
Chancellor Tom Case said that the artwork has "sparked spirited discussions on the appropriateness of displaying a piece of art such as this" but is protected expression nonetheless.
"We understand that some may not support this exhibit, but universities--including UAA--are a place for free exchange of ideas, diversity of thoughts and of opinions, and ideally, a place for conversation to occur around our differences and similarities," Case wrote.