Gainesville State College‘s president ordered a painting depicting the confederate flag be removed from a "Faculty Biennial" Art Exhibit after they received letters of protest. The flag included superimposed images of a black man with a noose around his neck and a hooded Ku Klux Clansman.
The protest came from a website called "Southern Heritage Alerts" and encouraged people to write to college President Martha Nesbitt demanding the painting be taken down. Nesbitt immediately ordered the painting be removed on June 25, only two weeks after it went on display.
"In school (in Venezuela) we learned about the United States’ Civil War and slavery. I learned to have a negative view of the flag — I basically associated the image of the flag with slavery, racism and the KKK," the artist Stanley Bermudez explained to the Gainesville Times.
"This is very much what I feel and think about when I see that flag. It’s just my personal feelings about it. It’s an accumulation of the things I’ve seen, studied and read over the years," Bermudez continued. He went on to say he’s been frightened by the confederate flags on KKK-run websites and in public meetings near his home.
Ironically, Bermudez teaches art appreciation classes at the college.
"I tell my students that they may come across art that they don’t like — they may even hate it and that’s OK."
This comes after several controversies involving censored artists across the country. In December, David Wojnarowicz’s "A Fire in My Belly" was pulled from the National Portrait Gallery after a group complained about its "gay love." A few days later in Los Angeles the Museum of Contemporary Art removed the work of a street artist they commissioned due to fears of protests.
The faculty biennial closes today at Gainsville State College. Bermudez’s artist statement hangs in place of the image.