By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Fort Hays State University Art Department removed several pieces of art from the walls of Rarick Hall after complaints the art was inappropriate for the children in Tiger Tots program that share that building. The artwork depicted women bare breasted.
Pastor Chad Pritchett of Ellis Baptist Church initially complained about the art after visiting the campus in February. He described the art as “pornographic” and “demonic,” in part because the presence of snakes in the artwork. Pritchett does not have any children enrolled in the Tiger Tots program. One alumnus also contacted the university about the artwork, but no parents of children enrolled with the program made complaints.
“We want to partner with Fort Hays and encourage education,” Pritchett said, “but we want to protect the children and their delicate minds and keep them from exposure to something inappropriate. I think it would be more appropriate if they moved the art to a different hallway.”
The artwork was created in a printmaking class at the university. Student artwork is regularly displayed in the hallways of the art department.
Karrie Simpson Voth, chairwoman of the art department, said depiction of the human form is a regular part of the art department curriculum.
“There is no university policy of what students can and can’t draw,” Simpson Voth said. “We encourage students to express what they feel in that moment. The instructor for the printmaking class chooses what goes up on the wall based on execution of good skill and technique.”
Simpson Voth said no harm was intended to the children.
“Our students are extremely talented. We hope the public can appreciate the artwork we produce. It’s with the best of intention,” she said.
Tiger Tots is licensed for 24 children ages 2 1/2 to 5. Sara J. Stroup, Tiger Tots Nurtury Center director, directed questions to University Relations.
Lisa Karlin, director of University Relations and Marketing, said the university was sensitive the concerns being expressed and officials believed the issue had been resolved with the removal of the artwork.