A painting depicting actor Chris Evans naked and holding President Donald Trump's severed head sparked controversy nationwide.
The shocking painting portrayed Evans standing in front of two large birds, whose wings stick out from his shoulders. In one hand is a sign that reads: "Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a stand in it." In the other is the severed, bleeding head of President Trump. At Evans' feet is former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, holding on to his leg.
The painting, which is on display at the University of Alaska Anchorage, quickly sparked controversy and questions regarding its appropriateness.
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"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," UAA chancellor Tom Case said in a statement. "Freedom of expression is fundamental to our mission and we support our faculty and students in exploring their ideas through creativity, research and scholarship."
University president Jim Johnson had a similar response to the painting in an emailed statement to KTVA:
The art installation at UAA that has sparked recent concern and debate has people asking whether a public university should be home to controversial, or even offensive, ideas. My answer: A vital and vibrant university, regardless of the campus, must be a place of ideas, opinion, and debate. A place where the most controversial ideas abound, and where assumptions and positions are openly tested.
Meaningful ideas and debates are often informative and, sometimes, unsettling. Throughout history, ideas and points of view that were controversial, even abhorrent or offensive at the time, have upset the status quo and led to significant advances in science, art, and understanding of the human condition. On other occasions, what we now think of as controversial and abhorrent ideas were once widely accepted.
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Not all ideas, opinions or artistic expressions stand the test of open debate or time. The dust bin of history is filled with such ideas. But ideas that we profoundly disagree with may be the very ideas needed to broaden our understanding of the world around us. I can think of no better place in a free society than a university to test ideas, especially those that are highly controversial and objectionable, through open and rigorous debate.
Meanwhile, President Trump continues to garner controversy of his own with many executive orders and rollbacks on regulations put in place during the Obama administration. Rollbacks that sparked particular frustration among opponents included some on environmental regulations.
In a statement coinciding with Earth Day, which came as thousands organized in Washington, D.C., to support science following threats to cut funding for some environmental research and scientific agencies, Trump insisted that his administration supported science and environmental protection:
Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate. This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home.
In a subsequent tweet, however, Trump said that although he was "committed" to environmental protection, he cared first about jobs: "Always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!"
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN when asked about the administration's cuts to climate change programs that such programs were a "waste" of taxpayer money.
"I think the president was fairly straightforward," Mulvaney said. "We're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that. So that is a specific tie to his campaign."