University of Houston officials and police censored artist Alton Dulaney’s ‘ARTGun’ work by removing the gun from the piece while on display at the campus museum, reported Houston Press on 4 May 2016.
Dulaney wanted his piece to act as commentary on the gun culture of the country, and especially in the state of Texas, at a time when the university itself will enact a “campus carry” law in August allowing people other than police officers to carry firearms on university grounds.
“I was trying to take a very neutral stance on it because it’s a very divided subject here in Texas in particular, whether pro or anti-gun,” Dulaney told ABC13 News on 5 May 2016. “My stance was pro-art. I really wanted to present it and let the viewing audience have the conversation. I really wanted to start up a conversation. I think the censoring of it by the police department was very helpful in that.”
In a statement to the news channel, the university said:
SB11, adopted in our last legislative session, allows individuals licensed to carry concealed handguns to ‘carry a concealed handgun on or about the license holder’s person while the license holder is on the campus of an institution of higher education’ effective August 1, 2016 subject to rules adopted by the president of the institution.
Until August 1, 2016, the Texas Penal Code prohibits a person from bringing a firearm onto campus, even in the guise of ‘art.’ The art as proposed was to include a real firearm and therefore, it was explained that the law did not have an exception for what was proposed. Under these circumstances, the guidance provided to the student and the Blaffer was related to compliance, nothing more.
The piece featured a .22 calibre single action revolver with a bright red flag coming out of the barrel with the word “ART” on it in the style of how sounds were depicted in early comic books. The artwork, minus the gun, hangs in the university’s Blaffer Art Museum as part of the annual student art exhibition and is accompanied by statements by the artists and the university’s office of the general counsel.
Photo from artist’s blog of the piece before the gun was removed from the display
» ABC13 – 5 May 2016:
Campus police censor UH student’s gun-inspired art
» Houston Press – 4 May 2016:
UH removes gun art display from exhibit, pretty much making artist’s point for him
» Artsfreedom.org – 20 June 2016:
USA: Threats to cut museum funding over “blasphemous” paintings
» Artsfreedom.org – 11 January 2016:
USA: News outlets censor Modigliani nude
» Artsfreedom.org – 4 November 2015:
USA: Michigan school bans novel from book fair