The Wedding Fragment Series: Situational Ethics

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Date: 1995

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity

Medium: Sculpture


Artist: Byll Cawley

Confronting Bodies: University of Alabama administrators

Date of Action: 1995

Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Description of Artwork: Byll Cawley's The Wedding Fragment Series: Situational Ethics consists of bronze sculptures of nude female figures, including a woman suspended from a cross. One piece contains a kneeling, armless woman with both a vagina and a penis.

The Incident: Eight of Cawley's works were hastily chosen to replace a student exhibit that was unexpectedly cancelled. During the installation of the work, university administrators informed Cawley that a cover and a sign explaining that the director of student life considered the penis on his sculpture inappropriate would accompany the sculpture. After a story on the covered piece appeared in the local paper, administrators moved the sculpture to a storage closet.

Results of Incident: President of University Programs, Brian Jackson, suggested that the work was removed only because it had not been reviewed by the selection committee prior to its installation, although several other works that had not been reviewed remained on display. The sculpture remained locked in a closet for the remainder of the show.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1996.