Rob Shimshock, DCNF
A Florida college ditched a professor’s portrait of President Donald Trump having sex because it is “too controversial,” according to a Tuesday report.
Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla., told professor Serhat Tanyolacar that his artwork could not be exhibited in a February faculty exhibition, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
“After review by the gallery committee and the gallery administrator it was agreed upon that your piece Death of Innocence should not be displayed,” said Nancy Lozell, a Polk program coordinator. She said the college “offers classes and volunteer opportunities to our collegiate charter high schools and other high schools in Polk county and we feel that that particular piece would be too controversial to display at this time.”
Tanyolacar’s artwork portrays poets and writers, contrasting them with Trump and other politicians having sex. The professor said the portrait is meant to emphasize “moral corruption and moral dichotomy.”
— PalmBeachFreePress (@PBFreePress) February 20, 2018
FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship sent Polk a letter petitioning the college to reevaluate the portrait using a “viewpoint-neutral” stance.
“Members of the Polk State campus are not children, and they should not be treated as such,” said Sarah McLaughlin, a senior program officer for FIRE. “By sanitizing its campus to shield high school students from ‘controversial’ material in a faculty art exhibition, Polk State harms members of the college community by needlessly childproofing their campus, and high school students by underestimating their ability to cope with contentious or provocative artwork.”
The professor has previously occupied the limelight because of artwork deemed controversial. The University of Iowa demanded that Tanyolacar take down a Ku Klux Klan-oriented hood and robe adorned with excerpts from newspaper stories about racial violence in 2014.
“No artwork should be barred from being exposed to the general audience in any academic institution,” said the professor. “As educators and artists we must accept that our students cannot be protected or disconnected from the ideological controversies by the institutionalized moral authority. In fact, controversial artworks are essential to the intellectual growth of our students, and displaying them should be encouraged by both the administration and the faculty.”
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