Art Project Or Hate Speech? 6 Rainbow Colored Nooses Found Hanging On Tennessee Campus

Students at Austin Peay State University were both horrified and deeply puzzled by what appears to have been an art project gone horribly wrong. Someone, allegedly with the approval of an art instructor, made 6 nooses, one for each color of the rainbow, and hung them from a tree on campus.

According to a statement posted on social media Monday night, the nooses were found on campus near the Trahern building, where most of the university art classes are held.

In a statement, President Alisa White called the display “deeply disturbing.”

“This incident is deeply disturbing and is hurtful to our University community,” White said in the statement. “Regardless of the intent, the display has no place on our campus. I am saddened, and I am sorry for the hurt and offense this has caused and want our students, faculty, and staff to know that it will not be tolerated.”

As of this writing, no one has come forward to claim responsibility or, more importantly, explain what the hell they were thinking at the time. Considering that Tennessee has over 200 confirmed cases of post-Reconstruction lynchings, hanging any noose of any kind is, to be delicate, in extremely poor taste.

But, even more bizarrely, it might not have been intended as hate speech:

According to a student in the class who asked to not be identified, the display was a part of a project in an introductory sculpture class. The student said the project concepts and locations were approved in advance by the instructor.

Comments on Instagram indicate the rainbowed noose theme has to do with the number of suicides in the LGBT community, which I can sort of see if I squint really hard. Admittedly, we’ve all said or done something that sounded great in our head but turned out to be a really stupid idea in practice. I’m leaning towards the suicide explanation because, frankly, I’m having a hard time believing that an art instructor heard the pitch “I want to hang rainbow colored nooses because I don’t like gays and black people” and thought it would make a lovely art project.

On the other hand, even if there was no ill intent, the student that convinced an instructor to put their job at risk in this fashion can apparently sell ice to an Eskimo. Stay tuned for more on this bizarre story.


Featured image via Instagram