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‘Satanic’ art exhibit should be removed: UHouston students
'Satanic' statue by artist Shahzia Sikander at U Houston


SGA considers resolution, pro-life group plans protest ahead of exhibit opening

A new outdoor art exhibit at the University of Houston is causing an uproar on campus with some describing it as “satanic” and supportive of “child sacrifice.”

The UH Student Government Association is considering a resolution that calls for the removal of the exhibit – a large, golden statue of a woman with goat horns, The Daily Cougar student newspaper reports. Meanwhile, a statewide pro-life organization is planning a protest.

“Havah… to Breathe, Air, Life” by artist Shahzia Sikander is a temporary art display scheduled to appear on campus through Oct. 31, according to the Public Art University of Houston System, which co-commissioned the display.

The statue recently was erected on the public university’s grounds, and a grand opening event initially was scheduled for Feb. 28.

However, the university communications office told The Fix on Wednesday morning that the event has been canceled.

“There will be no event on Feb. 28. We are working through the details on any potential programming for the exhibit,” the university said in an email responding to The Fix‘s request for comment about the controversy. “There are no other changes at this time.”

Sikander’s piece challenges “traditional symbols of power, justice, and female representation in public monuments,” according to the university art organization.

In 2023, Sikander described a nearly identical statue that she created for a New York City courthouse building as a “form of resistance” in response to the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Several UH students and alumni told The Daily Cougar this week that they do not want the statue on campus because it celebrates Satan and “child sacrifice” by abortion.

“It is a satanic monument to child sacrifice and it should be burned with fire,” alumnus Joe Wilson told the newspaper. “Any medical professional will tell you of the pain and suffering a fetus experiences when he or she is ‘terminated.’ Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Hedonism will destroy this country.”

Junior Aaron Stollings told the newspaper that he wants the university to remove the statue immediately because “it’s satanic, and it represents evil values.”

The Daily Cougar reports:

Others, like geological and earth sciences student Noah Monreal, are in support of the sculpture and criticized the assumptions some students have made, but also dislike the statue being placed near the Cullen fountains.

“I also believe that those who say the statue is demonic clearly haven’t done their research on the piece and the artist,” Monreal said. “My only critique is that the location could’ve been nicer, I liked sitting in that patch of grass and listening to the water.”

…While the University has not made any official comment in response to the backlash, the Student Government Association introduced a resolution at its most recent meeting calling for the removal of the sculpture.

Meanwhile, Texas Right to Life, a statewide pro-life organization, launched a petition earlier this month calling for the university to remove the “satanic abortion idol.” The organization also is planning a protest Feb. 28.

The art exhibit was co-commissioned by Public Art UHS and Madison Square Park, with funding from The Brown Foundation Inc. and the Madison Charitable Foundation Inc., according to the university website.

The University of Houston System Public Arts Committee chose to display Sikander’s work because it gives “visibility to groups that have gone unnoticed” and allows for “multiple interpretations of symbols in different cultures,” Public Art UHS stated in a FAQ about the exhibit provided to The Fix.

“The imagery in the exhibition at UH references intersecting religious beliefs, cultural traditions and languages, as Sikander demonstrates the interconnectedness of our world,” according to the statement.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to include comments from the university.

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IMAGE: Art21/YouTube screenshot

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.