Society

Backlash After School Removes Anti-Trump Art Project (Photo)

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A New Jersey high school has sparked a national debate about censorship after removing an art project criticizing President Donald Trump.

An art class at Morristown High School was assigned to draw a satirical political cartoon, according to WPIX. Junior Liam Shea turned in two projects, each taking aim at the president.

The first is a 5-foot-tall imagine of a pig-like Trump holding a cat in front of a burning flag. The pussycat is likely a reference to a leaked 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording in which Trump told host Billy Bush that as a celebrity he can do "anything" to a woman, including "grab[bing] them by the p***."

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The second piece of art shows Trump riding a missile while taking a selfie.

The artwork was exhibited as part of the school's annual Art & Design Show, reports NJ.com. The theme of the show was "America Takes a Selfie."

Both paintings were quickly removed after the principal received complaints, a choice that soon began garnering national attention after Liam's mother, Kelly Shea, posted about the incident on Facebook.

"Liam's graphic design project has been removed from the MHS design week gallery after the principal received several complaints," she wrote. "Ah, controversy. Whatever happened to freedom of expression? Isn't this what art is about?"

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Fellow high schoolers at Morristown seemed to agree.

"It's just supposed to be your creativity and expressing yourself," senior Nicole Roberts told WPIX, "and by taking it down, it kind of ruined someone's thoughts."

In a follow-up post, Shea says she is "overwhelmed" by the response to her son's artwork and that her son even welcomes the controversy.

"Although I was disappointed that the school decided to remove both pieces, Liam welcomed the controversy," she wrote. "He holds no ill will over the decision and has the utmost respect for the principal and all his teachers at MHS. He has no intention of demanding it be returned to the display or causing any trouble for the school.

"The reason I posted the image publicly is because it deserves to be seen. Art is meant to provoke; this certainly did just that."

Shea says her son is now receiving offers from across the country to print his designs on T-shirts.

This is the second time a New Jersey school has received controversy for censoring political views. Wall Township High School came under fire at the beginning of June after some students' Trump shirts were edited out of the yearbook. The yearbook adviser, one of the teachers at the school, was subsequently suspended.

Sources: WPIX, NJ.com, Kelly Shea/Facebook (2) / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/FlickrKelly Shea/Facebook

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