Untitled Statue at the University of Iowa

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Date: 1994

Region: North America

Subject: Nudity, Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Sculpture


Artist: Jack Becker

Confronting Bodies: University of Iowa School of Social Work

Dates of Action: 1994

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Description of Artwork: The untitled piece consisted of three bronze and fiberglass figures depicting a nude man, woman and child raising their arms as doves flew above them. The school commissioned the piece in the 1970s to represent a family confronting the real world and the family oriented curriculum of the school.

The Incident: The Director of the School of Social Work at the time of the incident, Martin Tracy, declared that the statue no longer reflected the school's message and "was offensive to the faculty and offensive to the students because it is a symbol of a dominant structure, a dominant culture, that does not adequately provide the protection of minority rights." Tracy removed the piece and placed it in the school's dumpster. Barbara McDonald, a former student, retrieved the piece noting that it had been defaced; the heads of the woman and child were removed and the man's throat was slashed and his eyes had been gouged out.

Results of Incident: McDonald took the sculpture home and is trying to repair it. In response to negative media attention about the incident, the school implemented a new review policy regarding the removal of public works.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1995