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Sigmund Freud sculpture puts university in analytical mood



Published: Mon, April 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some students were offended by the sculpture's death message.

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. (AP) -- An art student trying to make the point that Sigmund Freud's cocaine addiction was dangerous sculpted Freud's life-sized head with the muzzle of a revolver touching its nostril.

But some students and staff at Slippery Rock University, where the sculpture is on display through May 3, don't like it because of the various things they think it represents.

"I find it offensive because of the content," said Kathleen Kellinger, chairman of Slippery Rock's nursing department. Kellinger said the sculpture can evoke suicidal thoughts, especially to students stressed out by upcoming final exams or other issues.

Susan Hannam said students in her class on death and dying found the sculpture upsetting because it appears to be violent. It stirred memories of copycat suicides at their high schools, and concerns about the war in the Middle East, she said.

"Eight [students] have loved ones deployed in Iraq," Hannam said.

Hannam wrote to Bill McKinney, the dean of the humanities and arts, asking that the sculpture be moved from its spot outside the Strain Behavioral Science Building.

"As it is, it's foisted on everyone," Hannam said.

It's staying put

McKinney said he won't move it.

"I have decided that moving it is something I cannot and will not do," McKinney said. "The very act would be a value judgment that says I have somehow decided that the sculpture is taboo, one way or another."

The sculptor, 22-year-old Adam Tate, asked that the piece be displayed in or near a building used by psychology students when he was invited by his Edinboro University professor to sculpt it for the display at Slippery Rock, another state university.

Tate said he finds it hard to believe that his message -- that Freud's addiction was as destructive as putting a bullet in his brain -- is considered violent by students continually exposed to mayhem in movies, in video games and on television. The sculpture is titled "Prescription" though that name is not posted on it.

"Is this bad?" Tate asked. "Well, I guess it's good that people are talking about it, but I never expected it."

A positive note

Tom Como, the Slippery Rock art professor who approved the sculpture's placement, said he never dreamed either the piece or it's location would cause a stir.

"My phone's been ringing a lot," Como said. "But the good thing is that it's gotten people talking about whether the piece is appropriate, and about the question of censorship."




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