Sheriff Deems Sculptures as “Possible Weapons”

They may have been rejected by a sheriff as potential weapons, but curators of art galleries have called them art.

November 7, 2013
by Melisa Thomas, Monica Karpinski
Suprina Kenney, Seduction (detail)

Suprina Kenney, Seduction (detail)

Removal of sculptures by Harlem artist Suprina Kenney from a government building in Morristown, New Jersey has been ordered by sheriff Edward Rochford. Declared “possible weapons to be used against the public” by Rochford, the works were allowed to be exhibited on condition they were under constant guard. When this proved too costly, the works were simply ordered out.

Made out of arbitrary materials and assembled in casual, seemingly random compositions, some might argue that Kenney’s work it is not in fact art; but since being removed from the Morris County Administration and Records Building, ten of the sculptures have been re-exhibited at Gallery Aferro in Newark. They may have been rejected by a sheriff as potential weapons, but curators of art galleries have accepted them as artworks.

Kenney concedes that her work maybe understood in this way, explaining that ,“all my pieces do include metal objects, glass, wood objects, so technically you could pull anything off the wall and use it as a weapon.” She has also however pointed out that many other artworks generally exhibited in galleries could similarly be used as weapons.

Art galleries are generally considered safe havens for public and staff. Occasionally artworks may be stolen or defaced, but rarely is it thought necessary for the public to be protected from the artworks. The act has spurred criticism from the art world, citing freedom of expression as the work’s right to be exhibited. Kenney’s work is not aesthetic to look at, nor didactic in meaning; but subject to the interpretation, opinion and taste of the viewer.