Click the link below to see the responses to this painting:
New York Academy of Art: A Teachable Moment
And here is the artist's statement regarding this piece:
I understand that this artwork is creating controversy and discussion within the school community. I am very aware of the taboo nature of this imagery and realize the potential for it to be perceived as offensive. This is not my intention.
In no way am I trying to perpetuate the ideas of this hateful community. Instead, I want to unveil a never-ending trend of hate, prejudice and disillusion that is present in our culture. In all of my work at this time I am interested in fully capturing the viewer's attention through beauty and seductive coloring that then forces them to witness horrific subject matter. Overall, I wish to bring awareness to current social issues dealing with racism, hate, and injustice.
This painting is fueled by an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan that I had as a child. As a 7 year old, seeing this event was life-changing and revealed to me the simultaneous connection of beauty (in this case the fire, the costumes, the ritual) with abject horror (the brutal treatment and murder of minorities). The controversial figures depicted in my painting are ghostly cowards disintegrating into the darkness presented through a palette of attraction. I am continuing a southern Gothic tradition that uses art to explore social issues and sheds light on the cultural failures of the American South.
- Holly Ann Sailors , MFA 2012