Current Topics in Art: Assignment 2

Controversial KKK art piece removed after complaints

This news article was written about a Ku Klux Klan piece that was found at the University of Iowa’s campus. This art piece was made to look like a person: it was wearing a robe and hat standing upright made out of news articles. At first, as I started to read the article I assumed a group of students put the piece together to show their freedom of speech, however, as I read more into the article it was actually a faculty member by the name of Serhat Tanyolacar. Tanyolacar said, “the hope behind the robed statue was that the haunting reminders of negative moments in American history might lead to progress…He plans to keep the art piece active, with the next location possibly being Ferguson.” A lot of university students did not like this, they found it very upsetting, and it definitely was very controversial to where some even knocked it over. Students also accused him of racism, and this eventually resulted in the statue being removed. The university also mentioned at one point that they did not give permission to the faculty member to put this piece up and it was not approved, in which another reason the art piece was taken down was.

The articles are very similar, yet different at the same time. They are similar in the way they let the main point out to the audience. There was a KKK statue wearing a robe and hat placed in the middle of University of Iowa’s campus. However, it is different because this article goes more into detail and they even have an interview of Serhat Tanyolacar. I also, thought Tanyolacar was an active faculty member from the University of Iowa from reading the last article, however, in this article they state that he was “a visiting art professor” ( In the previous article, they did not mention that the newspaper had any type of significance to the KKK statue either, whereas in this one they do. The “screen-printed newspaper articles [chronicle] more than 100 years of race riots and hate crimes” ( Just hearing more details, watching the interview, and reading student’s opinions on the statue changed my view towards to statue. At first, I thought maybe it is just a piece of art and the professor was trying to make students aware and making it a peace symbol, however, reading this second article changed that. The professor should have asked for a permit, he should have not placed it in the heart of campus, where the week before students were protesting for Ferguson, and overall, I do not think this is one type of freedom of speech that can be exercised.

Personally, I was not offended at first. I am a huge believer in freedom of speech, your 1st, 2nd, 5th, etc., rights, however, some people seem to abuse this power and try to say… Oh, I am just exercising this (5th) right, so I can do so and so., and that is not the case. Here, I think the professor should have thought long and hard before wanting to post something in the middle of campus and at a University that is very diverse. I also think since the whole Ferguson deal was very recent, and it mentioned two students were shot by a police, he should have been prepared for students to react the way they did when they saw his piece. I agree most definitely, with the second article I read. It just felt more detailed with much more information to take in and actually make me think how I would feel if this happened to me. Lastly, I would like to add that I think the professor was not hurt or not sad or even upset one bit that he hurt student’s feelings. During his interview it seemed at times as if he were smirking or if he really did not care. I kind of think he may have been a bit racist, but that is just my opinion and thoughts off of what I read from the articles. I guess I would like to know the truth and the actual truth why all of a sudden after Ferguson and protesting had happened that he put this statue up right after?


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