An art exhibit depicting Jesus crucified on a dartboard has been removed from the Rutgers Art Library on the College Avenue campus following criticism from Christian students.
The backlash began Wednesday evening after School of Arts and Sciences junior Natalie Caruso posted a picture of the piece, “Vitruvian Man,” on Facebook. She said she found the exhibit “disrespectful” and requested a library worker take it down, but her request was initially denied.
“I was extremely outraged that someone did (this),” she said. “No matter how it's interpreted it is mocking the religion by putting our God on a dartboard … People have no respect for anyone else.”
Other students, including Christians, believed the right to free expression outweighed the harm Caruso said was done.
“Just because something offends you doesn't give you the right to silence someone,” wrote Parth Mehrotra, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “It's not about separation of church and state, it's not about anything, it's someone exercising their freedom of speech in a public art exhibit.”
Jessica Pellien, director of communications at Rutgers University Libraries, said the exhibit was removed because it failed to meet the library’s policy for art displays. These policies require exhibits “to be based on University events, curricular offerings and topics of interest to the university community,” in broad terms.
“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,” she said in an email. “We have concluded that the policy and process the Libraries use to select artwork for exhibitions was not followed.”
Pellien did not return requests for further comment before press time.
Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.