Censorship of Artwork Mars Opening of Georgia’s Zuckerman Museum

Ruth Stanford, A Walk in the Valley
Ruth Stanford, A Walk in the Valley, detail of installation at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, censored by university officials. Photo: Mike Jensen.

As reported by Burnaway, protestors are speaking out against censorship at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University (KSU) after an artwork showcasing the racist writings of a prominent historical figure associated with the school were pulled from a display two days before last weekend’s grand opening of the Zuckerman Museum of Art. The problematic text was part of an installation by Atlanta-area artist Ruth Stanford titled A Walk in the Valley, which was commissioned by the museum. It was removed at the behest of university president Daniel Papp after a walk-through of the exhibition.

The work heavily references turn-of-the-century writer Corra Harris, whose 56-acre homestead in northwestern Georgia—which she nicknamed “In the Valley”—was donated to KSU in 2008. Harris’s first published work was a shockingly racist 1899 letter, “A Southern Woman’s View,” which staunchly advocated for the lynching of black men. Although she went on to become the first female war correspondent in World War I and the author of 20 books, her legacy of racism remains.

In a statement, the museum explained that Stanford’s installation “did not align with the celebratory atmosphere of the museum’s opening. We therefore made the difficult decision to remove the exhibit for display at a more appropriate later time.”

A petition at MoveOn.org is calling for the work to be put back in the exhibition.

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