OU student groups sign open letter to have ‘Covered Wagon’ statue removed from campus

NORMAN, Okla. – A student group at the University of Oklahoma is asking school officials to remove a controversial statue that now resides outside one of the school’s most well-known buildings.

Last month, students took notice after a bronze statue titled ‘Covered Wagon’ appeared outside of OU’s Gaylord Hall.

William Obering, a 1957 OU graduate, donated the funds to the University of Oklahoma Foundation to enhance the university’s art collection and public spaces. With his donation, the foundation purchased the ‘Covered Wagon’ sculpture from artist Tom Otterness.

While many students simply disliked the statue, others have complained about the artist behind it.

The OU Daily reported that Otterness faced controversy for animal abuse after he allegedly adopted a dog from a shelter, tied it up and shot it on camera as a form of ‘art.’ The recording was called “Shot Dog Film” and was played on a continuous loop during a gallery show.

30 years after making the video, Otterness apologized.

Recently, the OU Public Relations Student Society of America wrote an open letter to have the statue removed because of the artist’s actions. Several other student organizations have also reportedly signed the open letter.

“We demand to know why the university still hasn’t responded to the allegations made against Mr. Otterness and why it has decided not to remove the statue despite the horrible things we have come to learn about the artist’s past as well as the questionable artistic references to colonization,” PRSSA Vice President Sophie Schwechheimer told the OU Daily.

In addition to the open letter, a student petition to have the statue removed has received over 3,400 signatures.