A painting of Ku Klux Klan members in an art gallery at Salem State University has led to the gallery being temporarily shut down.

The painting was featured in an exhibit at the school called “State of the Union.” The school said the exhibit was meant for artists to express themselves about their concerns with the recent presidential election. Instead, the inclusion of the painting sparked a contentious debate across campus.

“I’m very pleased with the fact that we’re challenging our students to think critically,” said Dr. Lisa McBreid, the head of diversity at Salem State. “Some art is, in fact, provocative and so the key is how do we prepare any person to enter into this room as an informed American.”

Students said what upsets them the most is the art was not explained with any information next to the display, which left it open to potentially negative interpretation.

“Very upsetting and it absolutely needs to be taken down,” said student Ajah Joseph. “This dialogue is happening among students of color who feel threatened by these images.”

The school said it is hoping to use the gallery to open a discussion on the current political situation in the country. While an explanation was put next to the painting, the gallery has temporarily closed. The school said they hope to have another dialogue with students after the Thanksgiving holiday and reopen the gallery next week.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox