Symbolism gone a ham on wry

Last week on my way to the student show at UTEP, I saw the sculpture pictured below hanging  outside the Glass gallery at the Fox Fine Arts Center. Moving closer, I saw two letters, since removed,  posted on the glass wall.

Sculpture outside Glass gallery at UTEP

The first was from a retired marine who works at the University. She wrote an intelligent, impassioned and carefully thought out letter saying she felt this represented a Marine, although it might just as well be a soldier, policeman or other authority figure, but “for me it is and always will be a Marine,” and she felt it insulting to all servicemen and to her personally. She pointed out that as a Marine she defended the right of the individual to freely express his or her opinion, and would fight, as she has  literally done in the past,  to defend that freedom because that is what Marines do, but she equally expressed outrage at what she felt was being expressed by the work ending her letter with Semper Fi.

Beneath her letter, was another, equally thoughtful,  which had been put up later, and which talked of the thousands murdered in Juarez, of the women who had been killed and tortured, of the police who had limbs removed and had been killed. It reminded how many of the bodies had been decapitated,  had limbs cut off, and how, in certain cases, when police had been killed, a pig’s head had been left near the sometimes decapitated body.

So the sculpture, far from being some sort of protest of police authority, was designed to act as a reminder of the horrifying violence which for the past year has brutalized the citizens of Juarez.

Both of these interpretations are understandable, each one bringing to bear individual past history and references, but it also shows how thoroughly a work can be misconstrued. I think it unfortunate that the letters have been taken down because they actually provide an excellent point and counterpoint to the sculpture itself which still hangs from the building.-david sokolec

Posted in art. 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Symbolism gone a ham on wry”

  1. Joe Mamma Says:

    “I think it unfortunate that the letters have been taken down because they actually provide an excellent point and counterpoint to the sculpture itself which still hangs from the building.-”

    (CLAP, CLAP)


  2. Mr T Says:

    I don’t need this type (crap)of so-called art as “a reminder of the horrifying violence” of this area. I feel it does lean more towards “some sort of protest of police authority”.. its obviously more of an insult to many… than any sort of heart-felt compassionate tribute to the violance of the area. As far as calling it a scultpure…. If that’s a sculpture… every piñata in Mexico must be a sculpture. Worst yet, is that the best that a UTEP art student can produce?


  3. Savage Says:

    I too read the letters and I thought this was an outstanding piece of art. One week earlier this piece had been cut down from its original hanging place during the Americas-Cruz Azul exhibition match. It was picked up and placed in this second location where it, obviously, drew a response a second time. I too agree that the letters should have remained, especially because the writer of the first letter was not adequately informed of the details of the events south of the border before expressing an opinion on the artist’s intent. Yet, that is not the point. Artist intent is not what made this piece powerful, it was audience response, and her automatic response was to place herself as the victim of the piece. The intriguing thing is that she felt the initial victimization as a Marine and not as a woman, somewhat ironic since the artist intent was to express the opposite. Either way, this piece provoked, incited, and accomplished what I think Art should…force people to think or respond. Most people thought, except Mr. T and those who cut it down blindly, but I applaud the artist and dsart for drawing attention to a powerful piece.


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