University of Colorado at Boulder: Student’s art exhibit relocated to basement after complaints


University of Colorado Boulder

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FIRE Victory closed

On November 29, 2018, University of Colorado at Boulder (CU Boulder) art student Kaelen Williams was told that his solo thesis show, which included imagery depicting self-harm, would need to be moved from the space he had reserved in the Visual Arts Complex lobby to a remote space in the basement. According to spokesperson Deborah Mendez Wilson, “students and others felt threatened by some of the images contained in the exhibition, including a noose.” FIRE joined the National Coalition Against Censorship and PEN America in a December 5 letter calling on CU Boulder to restore Williams’ artwork to its original location and abide by the university’s Governing Principles, which state that “[t]he proper response to ideas that members of the university community find offensive or unwarranted is to challenge those ideas through the exercise of reason and debate, rather than attempt to interfere with or suppress them.” That evening, CU Boulder announced that it reached a resolution with Williams and planned to explore academic freedom and art censorship in a faculty-led symposium.