When a Kentucky high school art teacher placed a U.S. flag on the floor and encouraged everyone to basically use it as a doormat, both students and parents thought she had taken the concept of “artistic license” a bit too far.
McCracken County High School, which had just opened its doors to students, offered a heck of an inauguration when students in Shand Stamper’s art history class re-created “Dread” Scott Tyler’s 1989 installation, “The Proper Way to Display an American Flag,” according to Fox News.
The flag was positioned on a hallway floor, and a music stand was placed on top of the flag. People were encouraged to stand on Old Glory and record their feelings — outrage, maybe?
Stamper didn’t take two things into consideration. First, the Tyler piece was on display at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, not a high school in western Kentucky. Second, no matter where it was originally displayed, the Tyler piece sparked public outrage, from the president on down.
President George H.W. Bush had called the display “disgraceful,” and Congress denounced it as they passed legislation to “protect the flag,” according to The Chicago Tribune.
If Bush was disgusted, Paducah, Ky,. residents were incensed, expressing their outrage on social media, including the following as reported by Fox.
“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.”
Stamper has since apologized in a letter obtained by The Paducah Sun.
“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. “[To say] I am devastated by my actions bringing outrage and negativity on you is a gross understatement.”
School Principal Michael Ceglinski told WKYX-AM that he took action the moment he’d learned of the display, according to The Associated Press.
“We had an administrator that walked up on the scene and immediately took the flag up off the floor with another student, and folded it in its proper manner,” Ceglinski said.