Would have been racist two years ago.


A painting on display at a University of Alaska Anchorage art gallery, which depicts the severed head of President Donald Trump, is sparking debate about free speech rights and whether the image is appropriate for display, at a public institution.

The artwork, created by Assistant Professor of Painting Thomas Chung, is part of a faculty art exhibition, at the UAA Fine Arts building.

In describing his painting, Chung said, “It’s an image of the actor who plays Captain America, and two eagles are sort of screaming into his ears, and he’s holding the severed head of Trump, and there’s a young Hillary Clinton clinging to his leg. I was reminded of those 80’s rock posters, where there’s a woman in tattered clothes clinging to a strong male hero’s leg.”

Chung says the motivation for the painting was his dismay over the results of the presidential election.

“After Trump was elected, I spent days just weeping. And it was really surprising, because I’m not a political person,” Chung said. “I am a social artist. I deal mostly in ideals of culture and global culture, but this election bled into that.”

The painting has prompted debate on social media and complaints to the university.

Paul Berger, a former adjunct professor at UAA, went to see the painting, after a family member saw it on display. Berger posted pictures of the painting on his Facebook page.

“The painting itself, I kind of found disturbing,” Berger said. “The image itself was very graphic. So from that point of view, and as a father, trying to explain to my children what the artist is trying to say … [it’s] difficult.”

Berger said he supports free speech, but questions whether it is appropriate for display, at a publicly-funded institution.

“Had the roles been reversed, and it was Obama’s head hanging there, I think the outrage would be fantastic,” Berger said. “As a free speech advocate, everyone has a right to express their opinion the way they want to express them. But as a parent and a citizen, there’s a discussion. In a university setting, what’s appropriate?”

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HT: Dookoo vader