A college art project that focused on civil rights, displaying two men hanging from a tree branch with nooses around their necks, has sparked outrage on and outside of campus.
The Daily Mail reported that Christina Edwards, a senior at Sacramento State University, said she chose the “race reversal” performance art because she wanted to shed light on social injustices and inequality African Americans have gone through and still face today.
The men turned out to be actors and were not harmed or in danger during the performance, which was installed Dec. 4 as part of a series called “Restitution,” according to the New York Daily News.
“My choice to cross racial lines was intentional to create an open opportunity to personalize and empathize with his-story as a people and hopefully initiate compassion and change in terms of social and racial availability and equality,” Edwards wrote in a statement to Fox News defending her project.
Edwards adds that she did not mean to offend anyone, but wanted to bring attention to the racial inequality that still exists in the U.S.
“The purpose of this performance was to bring to light social injustices and the issue of inequality that impacts me and my community as a whole,” she said.
Sacramento State student Alexander Richmond backed the work, saying, “I think it's more impactful when you use actual people, sends a stronger message that just a painting.”
However, University President Alexander Gonzalez claims the school did not approve of the display.
“The university did not approve the display, and I want to assure everyone that I am working to address the multiple issues raised by this incident," Gonzalez wrote in a statement Dec. 14. “It appears that the individuals involved did not intend for the display to incite violence, though it offended members of our community.”
Edwards insisted that she followed proper procedures and kept a safe environment for those involved. Faculty services also approved the project, she said.