Education Dept Features A ‘Total Tolerance’ Art Exhibit And WaPo Frames It As Ironic

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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The Education Department features an art, photography and poetry exhibit entitled “Total Tolerance” in its lobby and The Washington Post seems to think that is ironic.

Pieces at the display reflect on police brutality, transphobia and suicide, among other topics, reported The Washington Post in its article entitled “There’s An Edgy Art Show. Where? At Betsy DeVos’s Agency.” A full photo archive of the gallery can be viewed here from the National YoungArts Foundation.

Eighteen-year-old Janelle Radcliffe’s artwork, “America’s Target,” displays white hands placing handcuffs on a woman in a burqa.

(Photo Credit: National YoungArts Foundation/Janelle Radcliffe)

(Photo Credit: Janelle Radcliffe, “America’s Victim,” courtesy of the National YoungArts Foundation)

Another photo, “Black Life – Quanice Hayes” by Ameya Okamoto, depicts Portland, Ore. teenager Quanice Hayes, whom police shot and killed while he was unarmed. (RELATED: Professor Makes Students Step On American Flag To Enter Art Show)

“A lot of injustice is happening in our society, and that’s especially prevalent in the Trump administration era,” Okamoto told WaPo. “So for me, I’ve created a lot of pieces that I’m not afraid to say are in direct opposition to a lot of the rhetoric that is being spewed by the current administration.”

(Photo Credit: National YoungArts Foundation/Ameya Okamoto)

(Photo Credit: Ameya Okamoto, “Black Life – Quanice Hayes,” courtesy of the National YoungArts Foundation)

“I wanted to make the painting look pretty, but you can tell by the expression of the models in the painting that they are in fear,” 16-year-old Maine student Juniel Solis said, who created “Los Parajitos.” The teenager, who is gay, submitted a photo of two men who appear to be wearing lipstick and frilly clothing. “They’re in fear of society telling them what they can’t wear or how they have to act. I want people to know that they have to be true to themselves, be who they are. Especially now.”

(Photo Credit: National YoungArts Foundation/Juniel Solis)

(Photo Credit: Juniel Solis, “Los Parajitos,” courtesy of the National YoungArts Foundation)

“[Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos has spent the last year and a half relentlessly attacking the rights of transgender students, youth of color, survivors of sexual assault and students with disabilities,” Human Rights Campaign director Ellen Kahn said, according to WaPo. “Given the disastrous and dangerous actions of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the question must be asked of everyone in this administration: ‘How do you sleep at night?'”

YoungArts exhibition manager Luisa Múnera classified her organization as apolitical, but noted that she thinks DeVos “should see this and open her eyes and her ears and her heart.”

“The work is very, very strong, and it reflects what teenagers are seeing in the world. They have a sense of history and what is the story of their time,” the Education Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program director Jackye Zimmermann said. “If their work can evoke a conversation with us and the people who come through here, then we have something very rich and provocative.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to WaPo writer Joe Heim, who authored the story. Heim denied thinking the exhibit’s display in the Education Department was ironic, but declined to elaborate on why he felt that way.

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