The Censored. The Rejected. The Anti-Establishment. Show
In the fall of 2016, my piece "Anxiety Attack #2" was accepted into the COMPAS Competition in which my piece would be hung at Bricker Hall at OSU and I would be awarded $50...unfortunately that isn't how it went. Not only did I not receive any of my awards, but the same day that my artwork was hung up in Bricker (this is where the president OSU resides) it was torn off the walls...the reasoning? It was offensive towards women and also compared the painting to the attack that happened on campus when a man ran through a crowd of students/teachers with his car and then proceeds to try to chop people up with an ax before being shot to death by campus police...uh what??? how?? Please read the artist statement below to see what the painting was really about, and the email that informed me why it was taken down for more details.
The Art and Artist Statement that was Ignored...
“Anxiety Attack #2” (2016, oil on canvas, 24x36in) is a piece in a series where I expressed the anxieties I have about life here in the US. This piece specifically talks about the anxieties I personally have about trying to fit into our society as a woman. Whenever I have had a panic attack it has felt like someone had been suffocating me, thus I decided to paint the way it feels. I’m sure many other people have felt the same way--especially scared with the ways things are going right now, with uncertainty, and limited faith in our own government--I can see and feel their pain--along with my own.
The Email That Started It All...
At first, I was in shock and understanding, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how fucking unfair that was. I wrote the following Facebook status:
"So last Friday my art was put up in Bricker Hall at OSU via a competition that was made to call out "inequality". Today, I received an email saying that my artwork was taken down on Friday because my artwork was seen as "violent" and "disturbing" towards women. This person who made the complaint did not take the time to see the person who made the painting was in fact female, that the title of the painting is called "anxiety attack #2", and didn't even decide to read my artist statement which explained the anxieties women have in our society which should instead promote women instead of suffocating them. All they did was a glance at my piece, get mad, write to whoever is in charge of the show, and then have my piece taken down. In the complaint, they were blatantly more concerned about future students/visitors (aka money to administrators) from other countries seeing my painting and potentially not liking it, than anything else. This person even went as far as to compare the content in my painting to the attack that happened last fall.
I am not angry because they don't understand my work...I'm angry that they DO NOT care to understand my work. #osu"
This sparked a lot of fury within my community of friends, family, and some of the faculty at OSU...thus an idea to create an art show in response came up many times between teachers and friends--I had to do it. So I got started finding a place to have the show, putting out a Call for Entry, and reaching out to performers. (This was not how I expected my semester to go...).
I made it so fellow artists could submit whatever art they would like and at least one piece would automatically be put in the show--regardless of subject matter. Nothing would be censored or rejected.
The show was beautiful and featured 11 artists and 2 poets. I couldn't have done it without the support of family and friends.
...Sometimes very good things come out of very shitty scenarios. Just know "You have to go through the dark to get to the light"!
Artist Statements Submitted and Thoughts on "Rejection"
“Rejection is a viable part to creating art. It strengthens your beliefs in your work, your perception. Perspective on ideas, thoughts, memories, relationships. This is really the core of many of my works, especially this series of works. They represent reflections of perspectives or thoughts I've had in the past or present. They also have a duality to them, your perspective and mine. My understanding of the symbolism and representation will likely differ from others understanding. The vagueness of many of these works are to keep as many perspectives open besides mine. Though your perspective is different than mine, we shouldn't reject that. Understanding another's perspective doesn't mean yours isn't valid either. We're all different. We shouldn't reject perspectives, rather learn from them and what they mean to us and others.”
-Courtney Boling III
“I wanted to enter this show for many reasons. For me I feel that my art, style and subject has been rejected from the fine arts world, because is seems more graphic and illustrative. My art style has never seemed to be accepted by contemporary art show and critics. I simply felt this was an opportunity to show cased my art for what it really is not what others tell me I should make.” -David Lauber
“...I am entering this show as I have not yet been in an art show. Most of my work deals with being transgender and mental illness, issues that are usually not discussed openly enough. and when they are it seemed the piece is "being too obvious". Although I wouldn't say I have been rejected by the university in any way, my art deals with topics that are commonly censored or ignored.” -Finnick Vest
“...I choose these images for this show because it was rejected by my family and labeled as art that wasn't good enough. These pieces are abstract however to my family they were seen as "lazy" because any art that isn't representational to them isn't art at all, however something that a "kindergartner could do." Abstract art to me is one of the most beautiful forms of expression in art today…”
"I chose to take part in this exhibition through a need for graduates and undergraduates to come together in the dissidence towards censorship and towards the establishment. In fact, it might be the most important time ever to be against the established political machine. This is the time to make art that can rattle culture, and if I can have some hand in building that foundation, I'll gladly lend my time." -Ethan Rucker