Friday, April 24, 2015

The immense shame at the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland has cancelled a screening of the movie American Sniper in response to "complaints by Muslim students."
"The Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland started a petition requesting that the school pull the screening of American Sniper. In the petition, the group stated that the film “perpetuates the spread of Islamaphobia and is offensive to many Muslims around the world for good reason.” 

Ironically enough, the group also requested that students “exercise their freedom of speech” by signing the petition to remove the film from campus." - Amy Lutz
In response to the petition (which apparently gathered 318 signatures), the screening was cancelled, or (as described by the University's Student Entertainment Events), "postponed... after meeting with concerned student organizations. SEE is choosing to explore the proactive measures of working with others during the coming months to possibly create an event where students can engage in constructive and moderated dialogues about the controversial topics proposed in the film."

This, no matter from which angle it is examined, is nothing but brutal art censorship, and not only does the Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland now joins the notorious club of North Korea, Cuba, China, etc. in using suppression techniques in shutting down something that they oppose (for whatever reason), but more concerning, it shows an absolute lack of understanding and immense intellectual dishonesty by these Muslim Terps for the common American values of freedom of speech, inclusion, discussion and constructive engagement, rather than brutal suppression.

The issues that Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland has with American Sniper may be valid to some of its members and certainly at least 318 people on the Maryland campus, but their demand is not only disturbing and very scary, but also a complete failure at understanding how they could have pursued an acceptable course of action to express their views on the film without the brutal boot of censorship.

Muslim Terps could have held a protest outside the film screenings, they could have authored an opinion piece in the school's paper, they could have held discussions on the issue, etc. These are all constructive and acceptable means to express a difference of opinion about a film, a work of art, or anything else that draws out more than one pro/con opinion.

But the real shame here, the disturbing and reprehensible side to this story, is how the University appears to have folded in this case, rather than using this issue as a constructive teaching event to show all 318 censors, how differences of opinion are handled in free speech societies.

Shame on you Maryland.

What can we do? Express your opinion respectfully to:

Dr. Wallace D. Loh
University of Maryland
1101 Main Administration Building
College Park, MD 20742-6105
Phone: 301.405.5803
Email the President:

ARTPRIZE Announces Jurors for the 2015 Grand Prize and Category Awards

ArtPrize, the radically open, international art competition that takes place annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has announced the 2015 panel of jurors for the Grand Prize and Category Awards. ArtPrize will return for its 7th edition, Sept. 23 – Oct. 11, 2015.

The 2015 Juried Grand Prize ($200,000) winner will be chosen by a panel of three jurors that includes Franklin Sirmans, department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz; and Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu.

The five Category Awards ($12,500 each) recognize one outstanding work in each of the four artist entry categories (2-D, 3-D, Time-Based & Installation) plus one venue for outstanding curatorial presentation. These awards will be selected by: Indianapolis-based curator, creator and host of The Art Assignment (PBS Digital), Sarah Urist Green (3-D); Los Angeles-based Senior Programmer of Sundance Film Festival and curator of New Frontier at Sundance, Shari Frilot (Time-Based); New York-based editor and art critic, Robin Cembalest (Installation); and Cincinnati-based curator at the Contemporary Arts Center, Steven Matijcio (Venue). The 2-D juror will be announced at a later date.

Exhibitions Director of ArtPrize, Kevin Buist, said, “We chose to work with jurors who are not only experts in their field, but also bring a distinct point of view. The public vote functions as an aggregate of thousands of opinions, and we’ve designed the juried awards to operate as a foil to that populist approach. The jurors’ job is not to ferret out the objectively ‘best’ artwork, instead they’re charged with finding works that are surprising, masterful and relevant from their expert perspective.”

Since expanding in 2010 to include both public and juried awards, ArtPrize has sought to use its unique parallel awards structure – splitting the $500,000 purse evenly between public vote and juried awards – to spark lasting dialogue about public and art world perceptions of art. The participation of the jurors also presents the opportunity for leading curators, critics and institutional representatives to engage the public in their distinct and diverse viewpoints, pointing out new frameworks for interpreting and viewing art and encouraging a conversation around what makes art impactful and significant. Previous years’ jurors have included Theaster Gates, Jerry Saltz, Susan Sollins, Mel Chin and Anne Pasternak, among others.

The first weekend of the competition, September 26–27th, jurors will assess the entries within their respective categories, each selecting a shortlist of five entries. The 20 total finalists will then move on to the Grand Prize jurors’ selection.

On Monday, September 28th, the Category Jurors will reveal each of their 20 category finalists during the ‘Jurors’ Short List’ event, broadcast live on NBC’s Grand Rapids affiliate, WOOD TV8. Category and Grand Prize winners will be officially announced at the ArtPrize Awards on October 9, 2015 at 9 p.m. EST.
Artist Seed Grants, supported by the Frey Foundation, are available for a second year at ArtPrize to offset the cost of especially ambitious and challenging entries for ArtPrize Seven. Awarded on the basis of financial need and artistic merit, and determined by the ArtPrize Arts Advisory Council, 25 grants of $2,000 each will be announced shortly after the May 20 deadline. Apply for your grant after registering online.

Artist registration for ArtPrize Seven is currently open. Visit to complete your Artist Registration before midnight, June 4th.
ArtPrize is an international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public and juried vote. It invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people. It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art by awarding the world’s largest art prize. Two, $200,000 awards are decided by public vote and expert jury, and an additional $100,000 in prizes is awarded to the top entries in each category. Registered artists and venues connect online at and agree to present the artwork for public display during the 19-day event. The public voters use mobile devices and the web to distribute their awards, while a group of international art experts determines the winners of the juried awards. ArtPrize 2014 included 1,536 entries representing 51 countries and 42 U.S. states and territories. ArtPrize 2014 attracted more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 2.4 million votes for public art.