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Campus Sculpture Criticized As Sexist

October 6, 1986

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Some students and professors are protesting Cleveland State University’s plans to display a sculpture that apparently depicts a man being sent off to work by his wife.

″I think it’s an outrage. ... I will be insulted every time I walk past it,″ said law Professor Elizabeth Moody.

The steel sculpture is the work of George Kangas, an art professor at Cleveland State. Called ″Door,″ it depicts in silhouette a woman standing near a doorway, a boy, and a man carrying a briefcase, apparently leaving for work.

″What bothers me about the work is not the art but a concept that looks as if it came out of the ’50s - little wifey waving goodbye while hubby goes off to work - and that this is being placed on one of the most prominent places on campus,″ said history Professor Thomas Campbell.

Two student government leaders wrote to the university’s trustees to protest the planned display.

″It is our belief that students will be offended by the portrayal of the ‘common roles’ of the family as depicted in the sculpture,″ wrote Lou Tisler, president, and Tim Schmidt, vice president. ″In a society where having women in the work force is becoming a rule rather than an exception, it seems untimely.″

Not everyone agrees that that the work is sexist.

″I think that people are reading something into it that is not quite to the point,″ said Marjorie Talalay, director of the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art. ″I think that is far-fetched to say that because a woman and child are in a doorway, it (is) an anti-feminist statement.″

In a statement to the trustees, Kangas called his work ″first and foremost a celebration of the family.″

″I am taking a look at the traditional way in which the family has been constituted, which both raises questions and makes it a reactionary piece,″ he said. ″I don’t think that the objections are based on fact, but I would expect there to be different interpretations.″

The university plans to put the sculpture on a grassy incline in front of the Science and Research Center on campus. Kangas helped raise nearly $40,000 for the sculpture.

The trustees gave their approval Aug. 8 to the sculpture, but a model was never publicly shown.

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