Art is in the eye of the beholder some say, and while that is true, some art is so offensive that one wonders who would support such an artist. "Art" portraying Barack Obama's children as "nappy headed hos", in my opinion, is that offensive.
Yazmany Arboleda recently made headlines
after setting up in a storefront with two exhibits called "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton" and The Assassination of Barack Obama". New York Police and the Secret Service ascended on the scene and took Arboleda to the police station for questioning before releasing him.
According to his press releases about his "art", he claims his displays are to represent the media assassinations of the candidates.
Some of his art is so controversial that he was only showing it by appointment
, although he has made it available online as well to be viewed.
Arboleda explains his motivation for his so-called art by saying
, "My mission as an artist is to raise dialogue and conversation about substantive things. There's so much media time spent on superficial things -- like celebrities. My point is to bring substance back."
What does this artist call substance?
In one image he has up, it is a picture of Barack Obama sitting with his two young children and the caption above the photo says, "NAPPY HEADED HOS".
This is art?
Other examples which can be viewed online
, of Arboleda's art (by clicking next or previous in the right upper corner), include photos of a large penis, with a sign in the middle of them saying, "Once you go Barack", and one exhibit which has nooses hanging from the rafters.
The artist claims that his so-called art has to do with the media assassinating the characters of the candidates, but this type of "art" doesn't seem to have anything to do with the media.
His exact words in an interview
after his New York show was shut down, Arboleda said, "It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination — about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media.It’s about the media.”
The media has never referred to Obama's children as nappy headed hos. The media has never, to my knowledge discussed Barack Obama's penis.
The media seems to simply be a scapegoat so that Arboleda can try to justify his highly offensive and outrageous work that he calls art.
I have been firm about Michelle Obama being fair game in this campaign season because she often makes stump speeches for her husband's campaign.
I also believe, firmly, Barack Obama's associations, judgment and policy stances are fair game as well.
There is a line that supporters, opponents, media and yes, artists, should not cross and the type of offensive photos, available to be viewed publicly online, calling Obama's children those kinds of names, should offend everybody, no matter your party affiliation, no matter your stance on free speech and no matter your opinion about Barack Obama as a candidate for presidency.
Legally Arboleda can create any type of art he wants but it bears noting
that he is 27 years old and has had his art shown at respected galleries in New York, London and Washington, D.C.
He graduated high school with two full scholarships, one from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and another from the national Coca-Cola Scholars and he now makes his living selling his "art".
Since these latest shows closed down after receiving International coverage, he is now looking for others that will house his work.
While the first amendment allows Arboleda to express himself in any way he wants to, rightly so, it also allows citizenry to refuse to attend any gallery that will host this type of offensive material.
Galleries considering displaying this particular exhibit should be aware of the backlash they could receive for doing so.
Rights work both ways.