Morristown High removes Trump satires from school art show

Morristown High School officials removed this artwork by junior Liam Shea from the school art show.
Morristown High School officials removed this artwork by junior Liam Shea from the school art show.
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Morristown High School junior Liam Shea got called into the principal’s office on Thursday.

His offense: Political satire.

School officials removed Shea’s five-foot graphic depicting a porcine President Trump clutching a snarling pussycat from the annual MHS Art & Design Show. 

Also removed was a painting of Trump on a missile, taking a selfie. Students were given an hour at Wednesday’s opening reception to whip up something for the theme “America Takes a Selfie.”

Shea said Principal Mark Manning “was very respectful. First he said, ‘I appreciate the risk you took, and it’s very well done … but other people weren’t too happy with this.'”

Manning declined to comment on Thursday evening.

The Trump graphic began as a pencil drawing for an art class assignment to make a political cartoon. Shea added pastels, and then used software to transform it into a computer-generated graphic.

Shea’s mom said she was disappointed, and then angry, that officials bowed to complaints.

“To me, that’s what art is for, especially for political things. That’s how people express to the world how they feel about what’s going on…I don’t think the image is offensive. I think it’s clever,” said Kelly Shea, who works for an architectural firm.

Liam, an aspiring video game designer and member of the National Art Honor Society, welcomes the publicity.

“Me, I think it’s great. If it wasn’t taken down, I wouldn’t be talking to you!”

The teen is designing graphics of George Washington for another project. He said he loves the environment and was dismayed by the President’s pullout from the Paris climate accord. 

“I’ve gone from the first President to the worst President,” he joked.

While the graphic has earned him “a few dirty looks” from classmates, Liam said it has been selected to appear in Tricorn, the school literary magazine.

And he senses more opportunities.

“A dozen people told me to make a t-shirt,” he said. “I could be paying for my college tuition.”

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26 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with the decision to remove this piece from the art show. First amendment freedom of expression.

  2. I’d buy a t-shirt of Obama drawn as a monkey. Would that be censored? Would all you liberal drains be offended by that?

  3. Hi, I’d like to buy the original.

    And btw, Cocaine Dementia Grandpa/Ol’ Dirty Spoiled Richboy was a pig when he used the phrase “anchor babies”. He was a pig when he bragged about walking through a dressing room of changing underage girls who were competing in a paegant run by his company. He was a pig when he crudely attacked the parents of a man who gave his life in service of our country simply because they, as Muslims, had the audacity to criticize him for his vile, hateful rhetoric. He is a pig for falsely labeling hardworking immigrants as rapists and murderers. He is a pig for maligning hardworking people literally living the American dream while he, son of a racist, pos father/discriminatory landlord, had everything handed to him. He was a pig when he ran a campaign based on hate, on scapegoating marginalized groups. He was a pig so obviously mired in his own excrement when, in the name of votes, he refused to denounce the hate groups, the David Dukes, the symptoms of American ugliness and decay. He was a pig when he refused to denounce numerous displays of anti-Semitism as well as murderous attacks against people of color, foreigners, and Muslims that followed in the wake of his hateful rhetoric. Oh, this pig may have eventually made some lukewarm statement, but it’s glaring that president piggy, in the few cases where he spoke out against the very hate he inspires, couldn’t be bothered to respond in the lightening quick manner with which he took to Twitter when Vice President Bigot was treated so very “unfairly” at the theater, or when someone scratched the surface of his incredibly thin skin.

    Morristown High, what exactly are you teaching these kids. I have one word for you: SAD!

    Seriously, I want to buy that jawn.

  4. Good thing that these school “officials” weren’t around during the days of Thomas Nast! How ironic. What exactly was the offending aspect that deserver censorship?

  5. This is not some mystery of law we all have to figure out, this has been clear since 1969. The media response to this is absurd.The staff at that school are not being nice at all. We have rights in this country and all the snowflakes need to grow up. In another school they blocked out a Trump T shirt in a year book photo. For or against trump is not the point, we have rights this is basic civics. The staff at that school has failed to uphold the basic civic values of a free society.

    By a 7-2 vote, the Court held that school officials cannot censor student speech unless school officials reasonably forecast that the speech will cause a material and substantial disruption of school activities or collide with the rights of others. Mere apprehension of disturbance or an offense given is not enough.

    Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969) “Students do not lose their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door. School officials’ duties to provide a safe learning environment must be balanced against students’ free-expression rights. School officials may not censor student speech because of an “undifferentiated fear or apprehension.” They must reasonably forecast that the student speech will cause a substantial disruption or invade the rights of others. In this case, “the record does not demonstrate any facts which reasonably may have led school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and no disturbances or disorders on the school premises in fact occurred.”

    Majority:

  6. Who cares if people are offended. They should be offended at what Trump is doing to this country.

  7. Shame on you, my alma mater, for removing the pieces. It’s an excellent piece and fits the theme perfectly. Art is all about freedom of expression, even when, especially when, it makes others uncomfortable. That is one of the functions of art. Removing the pieces is censorship, and sends a very poor message to all artists, fellow students, faculty and the community at large.

  8. Mr. Shea definitely needs to make shirts and posters. Shirts and/or posters would be a very big hit here in California!

  9. Liam, what you created is art. It causes people to think and feel. Whether they agree or not is irrelevant. I’d be honored to hang your art in my home. Keep at it! – MJD

  10. I do not like censuring any person’s art work for fear of offending someone’s feelings because they “may” have voted for this man. He’s certainly offended many more people since he’s been in office by what he’s been doing and what he’s been signing in his Executive Statements.

    These same easily offended kind of people are the ones who like to put fig leaves on the great works of are by Michael Angelo and others because of they think they are “offensive to their delicate eyes.” Nonsense! If you cannot handle cutting edge art or some nude statues, then DO NOT LOOK AT IT OR THEM AND MOVE ALONG, BUT DO NOT STOP OTHERS FROM VIEWING THEM! Censorship in a “free” society is not freedom by any means.

    Congratulations, Liam on your clever art likeness of our “fearless leader.” Many of us didn’t miss the extra humor with the grabbing of the “pussycat” in the pig’s hooves as well. It was a good touch. It may have gone unnoticed by the obtuse, but you got your point across to most of us.

    I think you will go far after you graduate from high school and any college or university would be fortunate to have you matriculate if they were lucky enough to catch your eye.

    Good luck to you!

  11. This is very sad! Come on Principal Manning, take a stand and support your students’free expression and creativity!

  12. You’re very talented, Liam. Continue to create interesting art that inspires conversation and sends a strong message about your beliefs.

  13. Very disappointed in the school administration for removing these pieces. Times of great stress and political dysfunction are when satire is of the greatest importance. It is sadly all too appropriate that a piece of art depicting a President who presides over a reactionary administration would fall victim to restrictions on freedom of speech and expression due to the complaints of a vocal minority. That is itself clearly worthy of satire.

  14. I love that the very effort to suppress this young man’s art is giving it wide exposure and hopefully will ultimately bring him the accolades that he deserves. The irony is icing on Trump’s delicious chocolate cake.

  15. I would like to know how to buy a print of this very clever artwork by a local high school student. It’s impressive that many young people do not go out to vote, and this young man who I’m assuming is too young to cast a vote, is paying attention and expressing himself. (To have it removed, was wrong).

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