When is it art, and when it is just stupid?
An art student at the University of Buffalo caused mayhem on campus by posting “white only” signs on bathroom doors for one of her art classes.
Some students cried (literally), some cried foul and others claimed it was an act of terrorism or a hate crime. It wasn’t art for sure, nor was it terrorism, or a hate crime. It was more like nonsense and also a violation of University policy.
The student said she posted her “urban art” in an effort to provoke a reaction out of people. Heck, next I suppose someone will bring a clock to school designed to look like a suitcase bomb – just for fun (and then get invited to the White House).
Campus Reform reports “Ashley Powell, a graduate student in fine arts, came forward as the individual behind the project at a meeting of the Black Student Union on September 16. Powell, who is black, hung the signs as a project for her “Installation: Urban Spaces” class, which requires the creation of an art installation in a public space.
Powell explained that her purpose was to “get a reaction out of people.”
UB students reacted immediately and took to social media to express confusion and outrage. One student tweeted, “Not only is this a hate crime, but it is also an act of terrorism.”
Over 100 students appeared at the Black Student Union’s weekly meeting later in the day, where Powell admitted to posting the signs. The UB Spectrum reports that some of the participants left the meeting crying.
Micah Oliver, president of the Black Student Union, said the signs evoked, “a past our generation has never seen which I think is why it was so shocking for us to see.” One student called the signs “sickening” and that the project “entices a fear no one should ever experience.”
Powell apologized for hurting people but defended the project as a work of art.”
“Powell did not clear the project with the university before posting the signs. Posting on campus is limited to designated bulletin boards, and university policy states that “exceptional situations and/or unique material” require special permission from the Office of Student Affairs.
The university said in a press release that it is “continuing to review this matter through appropriate university policies and procedures.”
It occurs to me that Ms. Powell and the rest of the school have too much time on their hands. If Ms. Powell were interested in history, she should contact some people who actually grew up during the time that bathrooms actually had those signs posted (such as yours truly). Instead, like so many other rebels without a cause, she is simply trying to stir up some mass chaos and reopen old wounds. This wasn’t “art” — it was just stupid. But what do you expect to happen when you have art classes called “Installation: Urban Spaces?”
[Note: This article was written by Ashley Edwardson]