A public educational institution in Boston, Massachusetts has put on display a controversial painting that depicts Barack Obama as the crucified Christ.
Bunker Hill Community College says that it has received no complaints about a painting entitled “Truth” by artist Michael D’Antuono, which is a rendering of Obama wearing a crown of thorns with his arms outstretched as if he is hanging on a cross. Therefore, it states that it will keep the painting on display at its art gallery as part of an exhibit entitled “Artists on the Stump – the Road to the White House 2012.”
“I wanted to start a discussion,” D’Antuono explained about the meaning behind the painting. “Is Obama being crucified by the right? Do people think he’s the next savior?”
D’Antuono’s depiction was created four years ago, and was originally to be displayed in Union Square in New York City for Obama’s 100th day in office, but the plan was nixed due to opposition to its content. The artist said that the outrage over his painting was overwhelming, as he received thousands of negative emails and phone calls from Christians and others across the country that believed that the artwork was blasphemous.
“I always regretted canceling my exhibit in New York because I feel my First Amendment rights should override someone’s hurt feelings,” he recently told reporters. “We should celebrate the fact that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to express ourselves. The crucifixion of the president was meant metaphorically. My intent was not to compare him to Jesus.”
“I don’t apologize for creating and showing it, but I really didn’t mean to disrespect people’s religion,” D’Antuono explained. “It’s meant as a political piece.”
In the meantime, the graphic was printed in the Los Angeles Times and the National Review, which caused much discussion among readers. It also circulated via various outlets on the internet.
Representatives at Bunker Hill Community College are defending their decision to display the painting.
“Some of our shows are meant to be thought provoking,” said spokeswoman Karen Norton. “The exhibit was intended to coincide with the presidential election, and it represents different points of view pertaining to politics and our political leaders.”
Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain Tweeted about the matter Tuesday, noting the barrage of recent references to Obama as a messiah-like figure.
“Yesterday, we had Jamie Foxx saying that Obama was our ‘lord and savior,’” he wrote. “Today, we have the picture to prove it.”
As previously reported, Foxx made the statement this past weekend on a televised recording of the Soul Train Awards.
“First of all, give honor to God and to our lord and savior Barack Obama!” he declared as he quipped about the atmosphere of the awards show reminding him of a church service.
In addition to “The Truth,” Bunker Hill Community College is reportedly displaying five other paintings from D’Antuono, including a piece called “Trick or Treat.” The rendering depicts Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as children going door to door on Halloween. Obama is dressed in a Robin Hood costume, giving away his candy to a child that appears to be homeless, while Romney is depicted as a rich character from Monopoly, stealing candy from another little boy.
The paintings are scheduled to remain on display for public viewing until December 15th.