Conservatives Outraged By Smithsonian Art Exhibit (UPDATED)
Conservatives want an investigation and are threatening to pull funding because of an exhibit at the Smithsonian that features homoerotic art, an image of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a video of Jesus on a crucifix covered in ants. Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia wants to look at where the money is coming from.
“If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing – then I think we should look at their budget.”
The video, “A Fire in My Belly,” is included in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit titled, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” which is scheduled to run through the Christmas season.
David C. Ward, the exhibit’s co-creator, says the exhibit is intended to show the “violent, disturbing, and hallucinatory” aspects of the AIDS epidemic.
“Fire in My Belly is an example of political engagement in artistic form with the AIDS epidemic by an artist deeply concerned with the exploration of our response to that medical and societal calamity,” Ward said. “That it is violent, disturbing, and hallucinatory precisely replicates the impact of the disease itself on people and a society that could barely comprehend its magnitude.”
Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is getting into the act as well, calling the presentation an “outrageous use of taxpayer money and an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season,” and saying through a spokesman it should be pulled. And incoming House Speaker John Boehner threatened further government action, vowing, “Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington.”
UPDATE: The exhibit in question is not funded by taxpayer dollars.
[Linda St. Thomas, the Smithsonian’s chief spokesperson] told CNSNews.com that federal funds are not used to pay for Smithsonian exhibits themselves, including the “Hide/Seek” exhibit. The federal funds received by the Smithsonian, she said, pay for the buildings, the care of collections exhibited at Smithsonian venues, and museum staff, including the salaries for curators of exhibits. The exhibits presented at Smithsonian museums, including “Hide/Seek,” are funded by donations from individuals or institutions. Among the donors who provided support for the “Hide/Seek” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery are The Calamus Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The John Burton Harter Charitable Foundation, and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.Click here for reuse options!
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