Troy Professor Targets Alabama Immigration Law with Controversial Artwork


By Brittany Bivins

A Troy University professor's artwork is causing controversy after an Alabama museum pulled some of his pieces... because they say they were too controversial.

Troy art and design professor Edward Noriega says he's trying to make a political point with his pieces. But the Heritage Hall Museum in Talladega says it's just too offensive for most of their visitors.

The pieces that caused the most controversy included a portrait of the Virgin Mary reading "cleaning lady" in Spanish and a can of bleach labeled "ethnic cleanser," adorned with a swastika. Noriega says the work is a visual protest of Alabama's anti-immigration law, House Bill 56.

"I wanted to be able to compare what Alabama is doing with that the Nazis did. I do believe that this law is a form of ethnic cleansing," said Noriega.

The pieces were supposed to be part of an exhibit of Troy University faculty members, but last week, the Heritage Hall Museum of Directors pulled Noiega's pieces, saying the swastika was too offensive.

"The board found that symbol very offensive and we're a very small museum. We know the people that support us an that visit us, and it just was not appropriate for our venue," said Director Kelly Williams.

People around Troy have mixed feelings about the exhibit.

"I think it could be censorship, you know, because you might find some people that are more radical than others," said Matthew Russell.

"I don't blame them for pulling the piece. I mean, it represents a lot of tragedy, a lot of atrocity and Hitler," said Victoria Outlaw.

Noriega, whose grandparents came to the United States from Mexico, says it's not about they symbol, but the message behind it.

"Because I have a voice, I because I can express my voice, I feel it's important to express to help the people that my grandparents were essentially," said Noriega.

Edward Noriega says he has no shows planned for the near future, but he says he'll keeping working on new pieces until everyone hears his message.

You can see more of Noriega's work at his website here.

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