University of Kansas removes altered US flag art

Published 07-11-2018

0 Ratings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The University of Kansas on Wednesday removed an art display that includes an altered U.S. flag after complaints from Gov. Jeff Colyer and other GOP political candidates that it was disrespectful.

The flag, which was part of a national art project called "Pledges of Allegiance," was taken down about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, about an hour after Colyer's spokesman said Chancellor Doug Girod had agreed to remove it from the campus in Lawrence, Kansas, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Kansas City.

"It was disrespectful to have something like that on permanent display on campus," Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr said.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is running against Colyer in the August Republican primary for governor, also had called for the artwork to be taken down.

The display, called "Untitled (Flag 2)" is the last of a series of flag pieces that have flown on the Lawrence campus since last fall as part of "Pledges of Allegiance," which involves 11 institutions at 14 locations across the country. "Untitled (Flag 2)" was installed July 5 and shows two black shapes on the flag along with a black-and-white sock. The artist, New York-based Josephine Meckseper, said it represents a deeply polarized country.

Asked whether Colyer's demand that the flag be taken down violated free speech rights, Marr said the governor also had a right to express his displeasure.

"We didn't go and forcibly take it down," Marr said. "We let our opinion be known."

Before the flag was removed, Kobach said it was "outrageous" that a public university would display a desecrated flag. The university says private money paid for the project.

"The fact that they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag. I call upon the university to take down that flag right away," Kobach said.

University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson had said the project was intended to encourage conversation about the current political climate.

Steve Watkins, a combat veteran and GOP candidate for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District, first drew attention to the artwork, saying the "defaced American flag" was disrespectful to the military. But he said he was not demanding that t

"We didn't go and forcibly take it down," Marr said. "We let our opinion be known."

Before the flag was removed, Kobach said it was "outrageous" that a public university would display a desecrated flag. The university says private money paid for the project.

"The fact that they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag. I call upon the university to take down that flag right away," Kobach said.

University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson had said the project was intended to encourage conversation about the current political climate.

Steve Watkins, a combat veteran and GOP candidate for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District, first drew attention to the artwork, saying the "defaced American flag" was disrespectful to the military. But he said he was not demanding that the flag be removed.

Meckseper, who is based in New York City, was commissioned by public arts nonprofit Creative Time to create the piece. Emails and a phone message left for Meckseper through Creative Times Wednesday were not immediately returned.

In a statement on the Creative Time website, Meckseper said she divided the shape of the U.S. in two for the flag design to reflect divisions in the country. She said a black and white sock in the corner "takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border ... It's about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us."

The "Pledges of Allegiance" project began at Kansas in November.

___

John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.

___

For the latest developments on the art display: https://bit.ly/2ucX1tV

"The fact that they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag. I call upon the university to take down that flag right away," Kobach said.

University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson had said the project was intended to encourage conversation about the current political climate.

Steve Watkins, a combat veteran and GOP candidate for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District, first drew attention to the artwork, saying the "defaced American flag" was disrespectful to the military. But he said he was not demanding that the flag be removed.

Meckseper, who is based in New York City, was commissioned by public arts nonprofit Creative Time to create the piece. Emails and a phone message left for Meckseper through Creative Times Wednesday were not immediately returned.

In a statement on the Creative Time website, Meckseper said she divided the shape of the U.S. in two for the flag design to reflect divisions in the country. She said a black and white sock in the corner "takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border ... It's about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us."

The "Pledges of Allegiance" project began at Kansas in November.

___

John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.

___

For the latest developments on the art display: https://bit.ly/2ucX1tV

No comments found. Sign up or Login to rate and review content.