A professor’s painting of a nude Chris Evans, who played Captain America, holding the decapitated head of President Donald Trump is currently being displayed on the campus walls at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The painting was submitted by Assistant Professor of Painting Thomas Chung for the a month-long faculty art exhibit. It also features a young Hillary Clinton clinging onto the nude actor’s leg.
“It’s an image of the actor who plays Captain America, and two eagles are sort of screaming into his ears, and he’s holding the severed head of Trump, and there’s a young Hillary Clinton clinging to his leg,” Chung told local station KTUU. “I was reminded of those 80’s rock posters, where there’s a woman in tattered clothes clinging to a strong male hero’s leg.”
Chung claimed that he was “really torn” about submitting the piece for the art show, as he says he does not normally discuss his personal political beliefs with his students. He noted that he considered the fact that pushing his politics on them may make them “feel uncomfortable,” but that he “feels very strongly about this.”
“I think even students that might be pro-Trump supporters could benefit from having a conversation with me about why I feel this way — why I painted this,” Chung added.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, reported on by Campus Reform, former UAA faculty member Paul Berger expressed his concern about the painting being displayed, despite his support for the freedom of expression.
“I’m not sure how I want to respond to this,” Berger wrote. “First thing that comes to mind is freedom of expression, fair enough (although, I might wager the severed head of our former president might illicit [sic] a different response from the administration of UAA and their student body). The second is public funding of our university system.”
Berger elaborated to KTUU that he does not believe this type of imagery would fly had it been Obama’s decapitation that was depicted.
“Had the roles been reversed, and it was Obama’s head hanging there, I think the outrage would be fantastic,” Berger said. “As a free speech advocate, everyone has a right to express their opinion the way they want to express them. But as a parent and a citizen, there’s a discussion. In a university setting, what’s appropriate?”
The university is standing by the gruesome and offensive image however, citing the “free exchange of ideas.”
“We understand that some may not support this exhibit, but universities–including UAA–are a place for free exchange of ideas, diversity of thoughts and of opinions, and ideally, a place for conversation to occur around our differences and similarities,” Chancellor Tom Case wrote to Campus Reform.
Likewise, University President Jim Johnsen told the website that a campus must be a place of diverse ideas and debate.
“Not all ideas, opinions, or artistic expressions stand the test of open debate or time,” he continued. “The dust bin of history is filled with such ideas…I can think of no better place than a university to test ideas, especially those that are highly controversial and objectionable, through open and rigorous debate.”
It is unclear if Johnsen and Case would so vigorously defend the freedom of expression for conservative views, which have been continuously silenced and trampled through speech cancellations and violent riots on campuses across the nation.