A warning label indicating "mature content" will now accompany a UC Merced student's once-banned art at UC Merced's fifth annual Bobcat Family Art Show.
Another caveat for allowing the artist, Irene Tang, to show her work is that it will be separated from all the entries.
All the hanging artwork now is on one wall of the second floor of the UC Merced library. Tang's piece, "Spell," will hang by itself on the fourth floor of the building.
Tang said she expected to see her work at the art show's Feb. 15 opening, but it wasn't there.
Later that week, Tang got an explanation.
The school's vice chancellor for student affairs, Jane Lawrence, and Charles Nies, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, held a conference with Tang and told her "Spell" was distasteful and disrespectful to the chancellor.
The artwork in question showed a series of seven photographs of Chancellor Steve Kang talking into a microphone behind a lectern.
In each photograph, the artist placed a name tag on Kang's lapel with part of a the chorus of pop singer Lady Gaga's song, "Bad Romance."
The seventh photograph is what stirred the controversy among administrators, according to Tang.
In that photo, Tang decorated Kang with a pink bow tie and silver sunglasses. Tang also placed a condom over the microphone that Kang was speaking into.
According to Patti Istas, a spokeswoman for UC Merced, the show was family-oriented. She also noted that some children themselves had entered artwork into the show. Lawrence objected to Tang's project because she felt it was distasteful and inappropriate for young children.
Lawrence said in an e-mail to Tang that "Spell" was a violation of the school's principles of community and that her artwork was sexually explicit.
When she created the image, Tang said she wasn't trying to be offensive.
She described the project as being about the formation of identity and how college students are deciding who they want to be.
"This is just a dedication to people who are trying to find direction and find their own way," Tang said. "It also reflects that the school is young and can take any direction."
The condom symbolized how Kang sometimes has to censor himself to protect his public image, Tang said. This contrasts with how Lady Gaga is famous for not censoring herself.
Karen Le Cocq, a UC Merced art professor, entered her artwork in the show, but pulled it Thursday in protest of the campus' treatment of Tang.
"I don't want to be a part of art censorship," she said. "It's such a mild reference to sexuality it's laughable."
Gail Benedict, the show's founder, said she was against the school taking down Tang's artwork the first time -- and she also opposed placing it on a separate floor from the other artwork.
"My question is, should we pull out the art books from the library because Georgia O'Keefe's paintings resemble a vagina?" she said.
According to Benedict, next year's art show may have different standards for submissions to indicate to students what's appropriate and what's inappropriate for a family art show.
Tang said she hopes this doesn't discourage people from expressing themselves in the future.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.