US flag shaped in KKK hoods exhibit creates controversy in Wynwood

MIAMI (WSVN) - An art piece featuring the American flag in the shape of Ku Klux Klan hoods in Wynwood is stirring up alarm among some South Florida residents.

The faculty artwork on display in a University of Miami art gallery has already garnered a lot of attention, even though it has not officially been on display yet.

The piece, called “American Mask,” includes three American flags shaped as KKK hoods. The eyes are burned out with nothing but darkness behind them and are on poles with bases shaped like swastikas.

The artist said the piece is designed to make people think about how some have tried to disguise bigotry as patriotism.

Patrick Young, who works in the building, is offended by the work, but the artist said she finds it disturbing as well. “This is disgusting. This is disrespectful, and people just don’t understand it,” said Young. “I can’t see it being a positive message no matter what way you put it.”

“What can this actually help?” he said. “Burning an American flag, I have no idea what this symbolizes, what this helps out. Who does this reach?”

Artist and UM professor of sculpture Billie Lynn said that her own artwork is offensive. “I actually find it offensive, to tell you the truth,” she said. “And when I sew them, when I make them, I find it very disturbing. The piece is my way of trying to challenge people to think.”

She said that not all art is positive or beautiful. “We don’t need more pretty pictures when we’re confronting a world that’s filled with ugliness and hate,” Lynn said. “I want people to think about it and go, ‘Is this the truth? Is this the way it is?'”

The exhibit officially goes on display on Monday.

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