Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UMaine/Farmington "Art" installation disgraceful

Flags strewn around the floor of an art gallery is art these days? Walking on them is somehow aesthetically pleasing? Not in my book. I know about free speech. But why would anyone want to tromp on the very flag that gave those rights? And in doing so, tromping on the memories and sacrifices of our veterans who fought for those rights now so casually strewn around on the floor. Walking on the American flag in the name of art is a disgrace. And apparently many others think so too, as the increasing negative reaction to this display at the University of Maine grows.

FARMINGTON: Art and beliefs clash at UMF

"FARMINGTON -- Susan Crane thought she was prepared to handle the reaction from students when she constructed five, large American flags on the student center hallway floor at the University of Maine at Farmington as an art class project. What she didn't expect was the level of emotion her experiment ignited."

Flag project hits nerve
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"My purpose was to figure out how people felt about the flag and gave them a choice to walk around it. And then what it really became is our First Amendment that everybody has a choice to say what they believe. I expected it to be controversial but not as controversial as it has become."


Anonymous said...

This was actually a class assignment, students were challenged to do a project using art that would provoke a reaction in people.

I'd say she got an A.


Elizabeth Prata said...

And the professor got an F. This is exactly what is wrong with American higher education today. Like the student who is protesting that a philosophy professor said she would fail the student unless the student conceded there is no God.

Why force a student to deliberately provoke? I applaud even harder Tim Robbins's remarks at the American Broadcaster's Award dinner in which he said enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

It isn't "forcing a student to deliberately provoke". The project was to create something controversial that evoked emotion in people--the student chose this project on her own accord, consulting her father who is a Vietnam veteran about it first. The professor and the administration supported the students choice, because as an American, she has the right to express herself.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a system of higher education that demands students to think.

I am a University of Maine at Farmington student, and a proud one at that. I support Susan Crane's art project, and I am disgusted with how people have reacted to it. The people on campus who are offended are just a small handful.


Elizabeth Prata said...

Melissa, thank you for your comments.

I still think that assigning a project 'to create something controversial that evokes emotion' in people is unnecessary. What that means to me, is that part of the assignment is that people were deliberately hurt, and all in the minor cause of a class asignment and a letter grade. Students can be taught to think in other ways...

I'm sorry you are disgusted with the reactions. But are you surprised? As you related, that was the point of the lesson.

maggiegracecreates said...

Isn't all art designed to effect an emotional response. Even advertising designs are created to cause an emotional reaction. While this student may have received a good grade, has she adversly affected her longterm goals or will she always be the "one who encouraged walking on our flag."?

Freedom of expression is a right granted us by the constitution and the flag represents the country that gives us that right. Why defame the symbol of the very freedom you are utilizing to justify the defamation.

Would you burn your currency and then cry poverty? Would that then be called freedom of expression? Would the visual flame of that burning be called art? Should you become the rightful recipient of government aid when you deliberately set into motion your own demise?

When you scoff in the face of the rights you proclaim - should you still have access to those rights?

I agree - enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing that people aren't taking into consideration about this at all is that the flags were made of duct-tape, and the other smaller flags were purchased from Wal-Mart and made in China (who as we all know, we don't have the best relationship with right now). They were REPRESENTATIONS of flags.

People aren't up in arms about American flag doormats, coasters, and boxers, but somehow flags made of duct-tape and displayed on the floor are offensive? Would it have been less offensive if Susan Crane had placed American flag T-shirts and welcome mats around the floor of the student center? And if we want to argue about context and say those products aren't meant to offend people, neither was Crane's project--she had no intention of hurting people (the project itself was silly, because it's already been done and is basically plagiarism).

The students at my university created the context in this situation, the Veteran I'm sorry to say blew it out of proportion as have the College Republicans, just to get a little publicity. We weren't getting this much attention until they put out that slanted and god-awful video (which doesn't show the veteran attempting to ruin the student project, or the opinions of the administration themselves). I think it's disappointing to see everyone so involved in something small like this when so many larger things are happening.

Not to mention all this media attention has the University students at each others throats, which is sad.

And I really hate to see you talking so poorly about higher education when we're the ones spending our money and putting so much time and hard work so we can help build a better America. College students & universities in general aren't the enemy.



Anonymous said...

I'm waiting to see if UMF will encourage art that is critical of Mohammed. Somehow I don't think I will hold my breath on that one.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa. Provocative. Is the symbol of freedom somehow more important the the truth of freedom? We won't walk on duct tape but we will silently support repression both here and abroad. Makes me think, and that was the point huh.