Rutgers University recently removed from its library an art piece showcasing a small statue of Jesus affixed to a dartboard — that included darts impaling his hands, feet, and his side. The Jesus dartboard was part of a larger exhibit of thought-provoking pieces hung around the campus library.
Its removal came after a student’s Facebook post calling it “disrespectful” went viral last Thursday and prompted others to voice concerns.
“This is currently displayed in the Art Library on College Ave,” the student posted April 20. “It is surprising that a state university would allow this. I asked them to take it down because I found it disrespectful and they refused. How is this acceptable!?”
Comments below the student’s post offered mixed reviews, however.
Said one: “Whatever. Separation of church and state. But a real argument can also be: the artist is also religious, and is trying to describe how Jesus was treated during his life, and despite the ‘daggers/darts’ he experienced, such as being lied to, being disrespected, etc, he ‘died’ for us. Art can be interpreted in so many ways. This may not even be a negative portrayal of Jesus. This is silly.”
Argued another: “As an Orthodox Christian, this just made me cringe!! Where is the art in this?? Plz explain. If you see art, you are either blind, or have no taste in art, or just a hater on religion who uses this as a pathetic excuse to attack religion!! Grow up and learn to respect other people’s religious beliefs, I’m willing to protest this until it’s taken down.”
Campus officials removed the exhibit the day after the student’s post went viral, but did not indicate the controversy had anything to do with its decision.
“The artwork in question was removed from the exhibit because it did not meet Rutgers University Libraries policy, which requires art exhibitions and their pieces to be based on university events, curricular offerings and topics of interest to the university community,” a campus spokeswoman told NJ.com. “The process that the libraries use to determine how artwork is selected for inclusion in an exhibit takes into consideration freedom of expression as well as the criteria listed above. We have concluded that the policy and process the libraries use to select artwork for exhibitions was not followed.”
The dartboard Jesus art piece was one of dozens of unusual art pieces displayed around the three-story library. The other pieces include a stack of coins covered with a condom (titled “Tower of Babel”), a milk carton with a photo of Holocaust victim Anne Frank on the back (titled “Cute Kids Make Good Advertising”) and a Rutgers diploma hanging from a real estate sign (titled “The Bullfighter Extends His Cape”).
The names of the artists are not included with the artwork. Rutgers officials did not identify the artist who created the dartboard Jesus piece or whether he or she is a student or faculty member.