STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — Mary Baldwin University, the private university in Staunton that first began accepting male students in 2016 ahead of its 175-year anniversary, has removed an art exhibit after complaints from students over Confederate imagery.
The school booked artists for the university's Hunt Gallery about three years ago for a project known as "Relevant/Scrap," which had not been produced yet.
On Monday, November 5, the exhibit opened in Hunt Gallery and students were given the opportunity to express their views and response through an interactive display.
In response to Confederate imagery in the exhibit, including depictions of Richmond's Confederate statues in "prints, drawings and three-dimensional installations," an Instagram account titled "Y'all racist at Mary Baldwin" was launched to call attention to the exhibit and students took their concerns to the weekly meeting of the Student Senate on November 6.
Following that meeting, faculty members spoke with the artists about students' concerns and determined late that afternoon to remove the exhibit as soon as possible.
By the evening of Wednesday, November 7, the exhibit had been removed.
The two artists say their work was misinterpreted but agreed with its removal.
After the removal, the university sponsored a series of listening sessions organized by the Office of Inclusive Excellence, as well as a presentation titled “Memory, Monuments, and Meaning,” in Francis Auditorium, presented by Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown.
The university issued a statement saying, "In accordance with our values as an inclusive, student-centered campus community, we take seriously the concerns about an art exhibition by two Richmond-based artists installed earlier this week in Hunt Gallery. As a result of student concerns and discussions with the artists, the installation has been removed as of last night (November 7)."
Their press release listed on the school website also emphasized that "Mary Baldwin’s commitment to being an inclusive, accepting community is a defining feature of our university."