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College Bans Public from Viewing Controversial Art Display

A new art exhibit opened at York College, but unless you have a college ID or are invited, you're not going to get to see it. The school has decided that the display is too controversial for public view. The artist believes the college missed an opportunity to open a dialogue about race relations and is disappointed by the school's decision.

'Rewind' is the latest exhibit by Baltimore-based artist Paul Rucker and it's currently on display at York College. The exhibit went up on August 31 and has shown in other cities such as Ellensburg, Washington and Ferguson, Missouri. The college deemed the material 'potentially disturbing' and has decided to limit public access to it.

The exhibit features a display of racially-charged images, such as black people being lynched and artwork that depicts police shootings of unarmed black men. It has a U.S. map that fills with lights that are meant to illustrate the growth of the U.S. prison complex-- the transformation over the past century is startling. There are artifacts from the days of slavery and a collection of books on slavery.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a number of mannequins dressed in Ku Klux Klan-style robes in different colors and fabrics. One has a superhero cape on. Another is in camouflage. Another is belted at the waist with a silk sash. It’s a veritable fashion show of KKK robes.

“A lot of my work deals with the transition from slavery to the modern-day prison system,” said Rucker in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. “Our society went seamlessly from one to the other.”

These days, the very air is politically charged. Tensions hang like gas in the atmosphere waiting to ignite by the slightest spark, it's not entirely surprising that some businesses are trying to play it safe. York College decided to take the safe route with Rucker’s art. College officials felt that the entire exhibit was a bit too much for the general public, and imposed restricted access.

“The images, while powerful, are very provocative and potentially disturbing to some. This is especially the case without the benefit of an understanding of the intended educational context of the exhibit,” said the college in a statement.

Rucker is dismayed by the decision, as in other cities there have been no objections to the work. He feels it could have illustrated a lot of problems in the world, sparking discussions in the community.

“There is so much more to art than pretty pictures and naked guy sculptures,” Rucker told the York Daily Record. “But there is a learning curve in showing art like this.”

Rucker told the Baltimore Sun that his art is not for making people 'feel good', but to make them think. He has a message he's trying to spread.

“My biggest concern right now is not guys in pointy hats. It’s white liberals who don’t understand that they’re benefiting from racism as much as — if not more than — rural conservatives.”

Source: Fox News
Photo: YouTube

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