Centre Gallery, the gallery on the second floor of the Marshall Student Center (MSC), which displays student work, was closed Wednesday and a sign was posted to the glass door.
“We are closing this exhibit this week out of sensitivity to the recent tragedy in Boston,” it said. “The Centre Gallery will reopen later this week.”
The exhibit, by Michael Bauman, a graduate student in the school of the arts, featured various common household items, such as salt, kerosene, Drano, batteries, lighters and repair tools that can be used to create weapons of mass destruction. It was scheduled to be on display from April 15-26, but members of the Student Board met Tuesday and decided to close the Gallery on Wednesday.
The objects in the exhibit were emptied of all their inside contents and placed on white shelves and boxes throughout the gallery. Though the gallery was closed on Wednesday, the display could still be seen through the gallery’s main window entrance.
Bauman said he understands the decision, but said the exhibit was intended to encourage students to engage in discussion about recent events that involve weapons of mass destruction.
“In my opinion, by closing it, you are pretty much ignoring the dialogue that should be created,” he said. “Art is designed to create a dialogue and to create discussion. … While I respect their decision to close the Centre Gallery if that’s what they felt was necessary… the work was meant to talk about issues like (the Boston explosion), and how easy it is for someone to go about doing these things, and whether or not how our availability of the laws that are currently on the book or we’re talking about is really effective,” he said.
Bauman said he proposed the exhibit last semester and was approved to put it together for the Centre Gallery. The process took approximately a month, he said.
“Around the world, homemade explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and stuff like that kill far more people than anything else,” Bauman said. “And these are things made strictly made from knowledge gathered off the internet and concocted in someone’s home and then set out loose into the world to instill mass chaos and fear.”
Bauman said he gathered materials for his project from various retail stores in the local area, such as Wal-mart and Lowe’s. So far, Bauman said he received positive feedback from students who have viewed his work.
“What I’ve got from people is that this work makes you think about the ease and what’s going on and what’s readily available to the average person to change and think about,” Bauman said. “It was all positive feedback… and then Boston happened, and I think that because it could be taken the wrong way, which obviously is not the intent of the work at all, they decided that in order to appease the higher-ups they should close it out of respect for a day.”
Dean for Students Michael Freeman said he was made aware of the gallery’s temporary closure and said it was important that sensitivity was taken in relation to the Boston Marathon explosion.
“I compliment (the board) on the consideration they had in making the decision, and taking time to think through the pros and cons and all of the implications of that,” Freeman said. “Clearly, no one wants to infringe on free speech, but at the same time we want the students to be courteous to others. I think coming up with a compromise is a remarkable thing to do, and obviously there’s other people who disagree.”
Freeman also said he’s hopeful that the gallery being temporarily closed will encourage more students to visit the gallery when it reopens and discuss the message of the exhibit with their peers.
“It could have the effect of generating the kind of conversation that the artist intended, and could bring more people to the exhibit when it reopens,” he said. “There is a possibility that more people will go see the exhibit than would have initially.”
The gallery is expected to reopen today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.