Art display at University of Dayton with 'burned' American flag raising eyebrows
DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT) - An art display inside the University of Dayton is raising some eyebrows.
A student sent FOX 45 a picture of the display, which shows what appears to be a burned American flag with a sign that reads, "We will move forward." The display also has other messages around it, reflecting on the aftermath of last Tuesday's presidential election.
One of the note cards reads: "Sadly, as a nation we are divided. Ever since last Wednesday, the people I love have been scared of the future. Friends of difference races, religions and homosexuality have been terrified. We need to see that everyone is affected by this differently. And we stand together."
The University of Dayton has released a statement regarding the display:
"The University is aware of a student art exhibit at the University that includes a display of a modified American flag. The American flag is a powerful symbol, which is why artists often use it to elicit strong reactions. Although we understand that some will disagree with or be offended by an art installation involving the flag, courts have long held that, when the flag is used to convey an idea, such usage is protected by the exercise of free speech, a principle essential to American democracy and civic life.
"One of our country's most cherished freedoms is that right to free speech, which has special value in artistic contexts. The flag is painted at the bottom to suggest it has been scorched and a sign is also attached that says, 'We will move forward.' This installation invites the free expression of strong opinions – including disagreement with the artist’s use of the flag in this way. Viewers have taken the opportunity to write about their reactions to the exhibit in the large space immediately adjacent to the flag. All voices are invited and are able to express their views freely, and the statements posted on the wall reflect a wide range of reactions and opinions.
"Further, an academic forum is being planned so contrasting perspectives on this artwork and such free speech can be discussed in a civil and educationally appropriate manner. We will continue to emphasize civility and respect, whenever possible placing these dialogues in an educational context. As a university dedicated to the power of ideas and personal growth, these difficult issues provide real opportunities for all of us to grow and develop.
"The University has deep respect for our country and all that makes our democracy great. We respect all that the flag represents, we honor the men and women who have defended and safeguarded our freedoms, and we value our students who have made the commitment to serve."