Community members respond to divisive Pentacrest statue

The statue appeared on the Pentacrest early Friday morning.
The statue appeared on the Pentacrest early Friday morning.

The Daily Iowan reported earlier this morning that a statue depicting a Klu Klux Klan member appeared on the Pentacrest, created and placed by Serhat Tanyolacar, the recipient of the 2014-15 printmaking fellowship at the University of Iowa.

The art installation, which has since been removed, was not affiliated with the university. Tanyolacar intended to raise awareness about the issue of racism, according to reports. KCRG reported the statue was originally crafted in 2010, and said it had been on display at a museum in Florida before recent events in Ferguson and New York City inspired the artist to move the art to Iowa City.

In a press release, the University of Iowa said they have “no tolerance for racism” and they found the artwork to be “deeply offensive to members of [the] community,” and subsequently asked Tanyolacar to remove the artwork.

Although some community members were supportive, others were notably upset by the display and many responded on Twitter.

Students also responded in protest, with students on social media calling for a march on President Sally Mason’s office. The University also held a closed meeting for students and faculty members at the Iowa Memorial Union to air their grievances. Some have called for the removal of Serhat Tanyolacar as the 2014-2015 Grant Wood printmaking fellow.

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At around 3:50 p.m. this afternoon, a Twitter account purporting to be that of Serhat Tanyolacar released a series of statements explaining the intentions of the work, in addition to offering an apology.

View the full University of Iowa statement below:

The University of Iowa is a diverse community with no tolerance for racism, and the artwork that was briefly displayed on the Pentacrest this morning was deeply offensive to members of our community. Because it was placed without permission, university officials directed the visiting artist who created it to remove it, which he did.

The University of Iowa considers all forms of racism abhorrent and is deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and acceptance. There is no room for divisive, insensitive, and intolerant displays on this campus.The display was not approved by nor sanctioned by the university. The UI respects freedom of speech, but the university is also responsible for ensuring that public discourse is respectful and sensitive.

Drew Bulman contributed to this report.

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