Art causes stir among professors, students

A 2-foot-tall monkey made of steel, wax and burlap was removed from a student art exhibit in Tandy Hall on Nov. 14 because an assistant dean said its genitalia was inappropriate.Mark Muller, assistant dean of the School of Business, said he removed the sculpture because he and others around the office found it to be inappropriate for a work setting.

Clayton Hurt, the creator of the controversial sculpture, said he didn’t intend to offend anybody with the piece.

“It wasn’t for shock value,” Hurt said. “I just wanted it to look realistic.”

Students were instructed not to submit any art to the show containing nudity. However, Hurt said the genitals of the monkey were not obvious – he thought “no nudity” referred strictly to humans.

The sculpture, titled “Forbidden Wine,” depicts a monkey drinking a Dr Pepper. The student curator for the show, with Hurt’s permission, put a diaper on the monkey before the show to hide its nudity, Hurt said.

The day after the sculpture was put up, Hurt removed the diaper, and the following day, the sculpture was removed.

“I wanted people to see the original version of my work,” Hurt said. “I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.”

The monkey, which was prominently displayed on a shelf on the third floor of Tandy Hall, was depicted with an erection, Muller said.

“I liked it at first,” Muller said. “We’d be glad to have the monkey back if the diaper goes back on.”

Art department professor David Conn, one of three faculty members coordinating the exhibit said the decision to remove the piece was weak minded.

“It’s not a person, it’s not a monkey, it’s a sculpture of a monkey,” Conn said. “There is a statue in Ed Landreth of a woman with an exposed breast, so should we put a bra on her?”

Muller said the main reason for removing the piece was that some women around the office told him the statue made them uncomfortable.

The sculpture was purchased for $500 on the same day an article about the controversial removal of the sculpture was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Hurt said the publicity helped him sell the piece.

Seven students have taken their art down in protest of the censoring of Hurt’s piece.