The controversial art installation that was removed from Kennesaw State University’s Zuckerman Museum of Art in the spring has a storied life. Artist Ruth Stanford is now selling pieces of the work to pay veterinary bills for her dog, who gobbled up a massive dose of ibuprofen.
“I thought people might like to have a piece of this blip in the history of art censorship,” Stanford said.
Stanford’s installation, A Walk in the Valley, drew national media attention when KSU president Daniel Papp demanded that the work be removed prior to the museum’s grand opening on March 1. The work addressed the homestead of Georgia author Corra Harris, which is owned by the university, and a white supremacist letter that Harris penned in 1899 on the subject of lynching. KSU officials agreed to reinstate the work, and it remained on view until May 17 as part of the inaugural exhibition “See Through Walls.”
Never expecting the multipart installation to be shown again, because it was so specific to KSU, a few weeks ago Stanford began carving up the 10-by-10-foot vinyl wall covering that was arguably the most contentious part of the work. The wall cover interspersed maps of the Harris homestead with text from her chilling letter. Stanford has mounted fragments of the work in glass clip frames and informally offered them for sale.
While vacationing in Europe last week, the Georgia State University art professor received a frantic email from her pet sitter. Her Welsh corgi, named Jive, had rummaged through the sitter’s pocketbook and helped himself to almonds and ibuprofen.
Facing a $1,800 veterinary bill, Stanford has decided to ramp up her sale of A Walk in the Valley fragments by using Facebook postings and word of mouth. Costs range from $40 for a 5-by-7-inch framed piece to $65 for a 9-by-12-inch piece.
“The original work was an attempt to make sense of various and conflicting historical facts, the pieces of a puzzle. Chopping up what remains of the work just adds more puzzle pieces, which seems fitting somehow,” Stanford said. “It turns out to be a great way to help out my old boy.”
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Sally Hansell is a freelance journalist based in Atlanta. In addition to being a longtime BURNAWAY contributor, she also writes for Huffington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Surface Design Journal, and Sculpture.