23 Apr 2006

Penn State Censors Art Exhibition

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Josh Stulman, “Our Greatest Hero”
(said by Yassir Arafat of Haj Amin Al-Husseini,
(pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem)

The Collegian (the independent student newspaper at Penn State) reports that University authorities cancelled an exhibition of art by student Josh Stulman on the basis of the Pennsylvania State University’s infamous Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment:

Three days before his 10-piece exhibit — Portraits of Terror — was scheduled to open at the Patterson Building, Stulman (senior-painting and anthropology) received an e-mail message from the School of Visual Arts that said his exhibit on images of terrorism “did not promote cultural diversity” or “opportunities for democratic dialogue” and the display would be cancelled.

The exhibit, Stulman said, which is based mainly on the conflict in Palestinian territories, raises questions concerning the destruction of Jewish religious shrines, anti-Semitic propaganda and cartoons in Palestinian newspapers, the disregard for rules of engagement and treatment of prisoners, and the indoctrination of youth into terrorist acts…

Charles Garoian, professor and director of the School of Visual Arts, said Stulman’s controversial images did not mesh with the university’s educational mission.

The decision to cancel the exhibit came after reviewing Penn State’s Policy AD42: Statement on Nondiscrimination and Harassment and Penn State’s Zero Tolerance Policy for Hate.”

The Centre Daily Times‘s story today serves as a vehicle for an attempted whitewash.

An art student is claiming his work is being censored by Penn State because of its provocative images of terrorism, while school officials say the decision to cancel his exhibit is not content-related.

In an e-mail sent Friday to fifth-year student Josh Stulman, Charles Garoian, director of the School of Visual Arts, said the exhibit was pulled because it was sponsored by Penn State Hillel, making it a commercial work. The Patterson Gallery is dedicated to unsponsored class work. Garoian wrote in the e-mail that the exhibit would continue if the sponsorship is removed.

Hillel donating “$75 to $100 for a reception” suddenly magically transforms Mr. Stulman’s paintings into (non-exhibitable) commercial work? Right. Tell us another one, Professor Garoian.

Let’s hope Mr. Stulman’s parents know some hungry lawyers.

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Volokh Conspiracy also reports.

The Scholars for Peace in the Middle East organization is desperately searching for a copy of the following article:

Garoian, C.R., “Fighting censorship in the art classroom.” School Arts: Inspiring Creativity in Teaching, Vol. 95, No. 14, December 1996 (with Albert A. Anderson).

If anyone can lay hands on a copy, please send it by fax it to: 717.561.9494, or email it to scholarsforpeace@aol.com or send it to: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, c/o Susquehanna Institute, 624 Sandra Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17109.

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