Art on Klan sparks outcry at Harford college About 50 people attend meeting to address concerns about exhibit

August 12, 1998|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

At a meeting sparked by complaints about a campus art show containing depictions of the Ku Klux Klan, the president of Harford Community College said the fate of the exhibit will be decided in the next few days.

The meeting of nearby residents and the Bel Air school's multicultural advisory committee came after complaints about an exhibit by former student Dan Witmer, whose prints are being shown in the Chesapeake Gallery through Aug. 28.

Some of the drawings show hooded and robed Klansmen, images Witmer said were not meant to offend but to illustrate fear and provoke discussion.

"In no way, shape or form is this work an endorsement of the KKK," Witmer told about 50 people at the meeting. "I know this is difficult. There is a lot of opportunity to allow for good questions, good comments and good insights from this."

College president Claudia E. Chiesi said the meeting was called to hear the communities' concerns about the exhibit, which opened July 22.

"The role of art, as I see it, is to be provocative," Chiesi said. "The expectation is that we will balance a number of theater offerings, art exhibits and displays here at the school."

Many at the meeting denounced the show as racist.

"This is a time in Harford County where we are trying to break through," said J. B. Redding, a candidate for the House of Delegates from the 34th District. "The Klan carries a level of pain and degradation for some people. It may be legal [for the art work to be exhibited] but it is not right."

Chiesi said officials will make a decision regarding the show in the next few days.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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