AZ State University "Balances" Exhibition by Eliminating Art Critical of the Current Administration


Democracy means open discussion, democracy means freedom to criticize the government, democracy means civic engagement…but for officials at Arizona State University, democracy means counter-balancing any criticism of the policies of the present administration with criticism of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. As a result, curators of the "Democracy in America" exhibition at ASU’s Art Museum were confronted with a thorny problem: Kerry hasn’t been in the position to make as momentous decisions as the President, so there is not much artwork criticizing him; on the other hand there isn’t much cutting edge work celebrating George W. Bush. So what were the museum director and curators to do? They eliminated from the show the work of artists who had been invited to participate. Not only work that was explicitly critical of the president, but work, like Ryan McNamara’s Angry Americans that could potentially be interpreted as expressing anger at the status quo.

Ryan McNamara, Angry Americans

For more information see David Velasco’s open letter to Robert Wills, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and to Joe Watson’s two New Times articles "Bush League" and "Heil to the Chief."

In a letter to NCAC, ASU Art Museum director & head curator Marilyn Zeitlin argues with the facts as presented by Joe Watson of the Phoenix New Times. With her permission, we have posted the letter in its entirety here.

The debate about freedom of expression at ASU continues. Click here for a recent article by Rick Barrs of the Phoenix New Times.

The following are some of the people responsible for the show.

Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University ([email protected])
J. Robert Wills, Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University ([email protected])
Marilyn Zeitlin, Head Curator, ASU Art Museum ([email protected])
Stacey Shaw, Communications Director, College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University ([email protected])