NORMAN, Okla. - An artist’s controversial past is now prompting cries for a statue on the OU campus to be removed.
Students have started the petition and thousands have signed on.
The covered wagon was donated to the University by an alum and installed last month, but many students say they don’t want anything of the artist behind it associated with OU.
"I don’t think that’s art," said Abigale Lee, an OU student. "I think there’s plenty of creative outlets and I don’t think that’s one of them. I think it’s awful.”
Lee started the petition to remove the Covered Wagon statue.
She’s upset that OU chose a piece of Tom Otterness’s work to be displayed on campus.
Otterness is accused of animal abuse back in 1977. Reports say he recorded a video of him tying up, then shooting a dog. It was called a short dog film.
Lee says she has a rescue dog, so she was furious.
“Yes this was a long time ago but I think with such a vicious act,' said Lee. "I don’t think it matters. I was furious to find out that OU would kind of let that happen on our campus.”
The Public Relations Student Society also wrote an open letter to the University about their concerns, saying "We believe the statue and it's placement outside gaylord hall will negatively impact the image of our college."
News4 was not able to reach the artist for a comment on the effort to remove his statue from campus. A few years ago, Otterness apologized for the incident, saying he hopes people can find it in their hearts to forgive him.
Lee says she does forgive him, but it doesn’t change her goal, wanting the statue gone.
“Yes, we can forgive it, but I don’t think we can forget it," said Lee. “There are so many talented alumni, so many talented people in the Norman community when it comes to art and sculptures and I just don’t think he should be the one to be displayed at Gaylord.”
News4 also reached out to OU for a comment. They say “While the decision about the statue and placement was made last year under a previous administration, we are always open to listening to concerns. We have just received an open letter from the OU PRSSA Chapter and are reviewing it.”