City Displays Racially Charged Art

David Pendered, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 28, 2007

A piece of art that raises a stark question about race relations in America is hanging in a gallery at Atlanta’s City Hall East.

The display, a collection of 33 U.S. flags, includes two sentences with no punctuation: “Politically its OK to hate the white man” and, “Is it OK for me to hate if Ive been a victim”

The piece was approved by the curator of the gallery in a building that functions as a satellite campus of Atlanta City Hall. The annual Pin-Up Show, which opened Friday, provides emerging artists with a venue to display their works, said Myra Reeves, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

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[Alvaro] Alvillar said Wednesday he hoped his piece would promote conversations about race relations, which he said is one of the more contentious issues of modern life.

“What I’m trying to say is that right now, the only politically correct form of prejudice is that anyone can say anything about a white person,” Alvillar said. “I think that’s wrong, but it happens to be a reality and that is the idea of the first sentence. The second sentence is made to make you think about where you stand if you have been a victim.”

Reeves said the curator, Freddie Styles, approved the artists and pieces displayed in the Pin-Up Show. Styles’ goal was to provide a venue for artists in metro Atlanta who are not well known but have potential for a wider audience. The artists are not paid, Reeves said. The selection process amounts to Styles inviting a diverse group of artists to participate, Reeves said.

Reeves said the city has no plans to remove the piece: “We’re not censoring freedom of expression.”

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