Thomas Chung, an assistant art professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, said that the motivation behind his painting that depicts a nude Captain America holding up the severed head of President Trump was his disappointment in the results of the 2016 election. Chung's painting is now on display at the university's Kimura Gallery-- much to the outrage of the president's supporters.

Artist 'wept for days' after the election

"I spent days just weeping," said Chung to Anchorage's KTUU, "and it was really surprising because I'm not a political person."

According to Chung, he considers himself a social artist who strives to capture the ideals of global culture.

Chung may or may not have captured the ideals of global culture with his painting of a decapitated president, but one thing he certainly captured was attention.

Paul Berger, a former adjunct professor at the university, found the painting "disturbing" and "very graphic". He told KTUU that, had it been "Obama's head hanging there", the outrage would be fantastic. He questioned whether or not the painting was appropriate in a university setting.

The painting-- which is so graphic that KTUU includes a disclaimer on its link to view it-- has ignited a firestorm of outrage on social media. Reactions on Twitter ranged from calls to cut off funding to the University of Alaska, to speculation that Chung is mentally ill.

"Send him to the psych department," said one Twitter user.

Several others called for the university to fire Chung. This, however, seems unlikely, as the chairman of the Fine Arts Department, Steven Godfrey, went on the record supporting the professor's decision to paint the severed head of the president.

Citing free speech, UAA refuses to take down painting

According to KTUU, Godfrey says that he believes the university has a duty to protect the rights of students and faculty who create controversial art, "no matter what their political or religious bent is."

The school's decision not to remove the objectionable painting has many locals scratching their heads, because the University of Alaska-Anchorage has a track record of censoring "offensive" artwork.

Alaska Dispatch News pointed out that a student's sculpture of a Ku Klux Klansman was removed from the UAA gallery in 1991, after black students threatened to remove the statue on their own if the university failed to do the job.

In 1998, after art gallery windows were covered with poster board to shield offensive artwork from the school's adjoining day care, UAA student activities coordinator Cricket Watt said the school had a longstanding policy of shielding "potentially offensive art" from public view.

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