Campus carry may have passed in Texas, but guns are still off limits at Texas universities — even when used as unloaded expressions of art. The University of Houston censored a student’s art project, a revolver with a cartoon banner reading the word “ART,” according to Houston Press.
The art, created by student Alton DuLaney, was meant to be neutral. The display at Blaffer Museum contained a two paragraph explanation about Texas law banning guns on campus until August. Houston Press did note that there was another display of nunchucks and prison shanks, which were allowed.
While his artwork was censored, “it proved my point about how controversial this object was,” DuLaney noted.
“That cartoonish element reminded DuLaney of how guns are so omnipresent in Texas culture that, even for kids in this state, toy guns are part of growing up. He was wondering: If he transformed the gun to look this way, would it still have as much power? After UH’s decision, the answer was, well, apparently yes,” Houston Press wrote.
DuLaney also spoke with ABC13 about whether his art project was art or a weapon:
I was trying to take a very neutral stance on it because it’s a very divided subject here in Texas in particular, whether pro or anti-gun.
My stance was pro-art. I really wanted to present it and let the viewing audience have the conservation. I really wanted to start up a conversation. I think the censoring of it by the police department was very helpful in that.
A statement from the University of Houston in part read:
Until August 1, 2016, the Texas Penal Code prohibits a person from bringing a firearm onto campus, even in the guise of ‘art.’ The art as proposed was to include a real firearm and therefore, it was explained that the law did not have an exception for what was proposed. Under these circumstances, the guidance provided to the student and the Blaffer was related to compliance, nothing more.
If DuLaney wanted to raise questions about controversy, he certainly found a way to do so. His exhibit in partial form will run until May 14. The exhibit was initially approved by IPEF Director John Reed before campus police and Office of General Counsel said otherwise.