Prof uses American flag as doormat in college 'art display'

Students and community members at Broward College (BC) are outraged after an American Flag was used as a doormat by a professor during an art exhibition hosted by the school.

“So it appears this is ok to do at central campus Broward College. This is a American Flag Painted white and cut in half and used as a door mat,” BC student and Marine Corps veteran Jess Karcher wrote on Facebook, accompanied by photos of an American Flag painted white, cut in half, and lying on the ground.

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“I am not sure what the message is they are trying to give, but there was a camera taking pictures of people unknowingly steeping [sic] on it,” Karcher continued.

The photos were taken by Karcher at the 2018 Full-time Faculty Exhibition on Jan 26, an event BC’s website describes as an “eclectic show,” featuring “painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and multi-media installation.”

Angel Clyman, a spokesman for the Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, the location of the exhibition, identified the artist behind the display as BC Assistant Professor of Art Lisa Rockford.

Shortly thereafter, Karcher took it upon himself to write a letter to BC President David Armstrong.

“I am sorry to have to write this letter to you, but I am a student at Broward College Central Campus and I am a disable [sic] Marine Corps Veteran,” Karcher wrote, adding that one of the artists at the exhibit displayed “an American Flag cut in half” that is “either bleached or painted white laying on the ground on the entrance to the exhibition.”

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“People are stepping on the flag as they enter most of whom don’t realize its an American flag. The artist had a camera set up taking pictures of people stepping on it as part of her art work,” Karcher continued. “I find this extremely disrespectful and kick in the gut as a veteran. I have lost many friends whose caskets were draped with that same flag.”

Further, Karcher claimed that the exhibit was designed specifically to have visitors step on the flag unawares.

“When one of the professors tried to stop me from stepping on it, the artist said 'don’t say anything,'” Karcher told Campus Reform. “I did not realize it was a flag until after I left the show and a professor told me what it was. So when I went back down to check it out, [and] it was a flag.”

[RELATED: Veterans protest removal of American flag at Hampshire College]

Karcher also confirmed that the artist responsible for the display is Professor Rockford, saying, “she was the one with a camera laughing as people were stepping on it. She is the one that told my professor not to say anything."

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Broward College provided Campus Reform with the following statement:

"Broward College understands that the piece, currently on exhibit, is controversial. The provocative nature of the piece is protected by the artist’s [c]onsitutional rights, specifically the First Amendment right to the Freedom of Speech. The piece represents the opinions of the individual artist and they are not indicative of the values at Broward College, the Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, or the other artists featured in the exhibition.

Broward College supports the United States Constitution, the right to the Freedom of Speech, and the American Flag. The College has taken measures to ensure attendees of the exhibit know the art and opinions expressed are controversial and do not represent the institution’s values."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter