(Photo courtesy of Michael D’Antuono)
By Katherine Landergan,
Boston Globe Correspondent
"A painting that was removed from an art installation in New York City because of public backlash is now on display at the Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery, sparking outrage as well as an outpouring of support for the artist.
The portrait depicts President Obama as Jesus, wearing a Crown of Thorns with his arms outstretched. Michael D’Antuono’s painting, which is called 'The Truth,' is part of a larger exhibit 'Artists on the Stump: The Road to the White House 2012.'
According to the gallery’s website, the exhibition is an opportunity for artists to 'weigh in on the issues, candidates and country.' ”
"D’Antuono, who has been an illustrator for nearly 25 years, began crafting political works of art in 2009. 'The Truth' was his first piece, which he had planned to display as an art installation in New York’s Union Square Park on Obama’s 100th day in office. He said the painting was to be in a mock voting booth; the idea was members of the public would view the painting privately, and they would then be interviewed about what they thought of the piece.
But D’Antuono decided to pull the installation after receiving approximately 4,000 angry emails about the painting. His family also voiced concerns for their safety, because of the amount of publicity the painting was generating. 'I was threatened for eternal damnation,' D’Antuono said. 'One lady said, ‘I hope you get arthritis in both your hands and can never paint again.’” In a phone interview Tuesday, D’Antuono said he feels that many of the people who were sickened by the painting may have missed its real meaning. 'They weren’t interesting in the point of the painting,' he said. 'They didn’t get that far.'
I see the painting as a symbol of what Mr. Obama has had to endure since his election in 2008. IMO, there can be no "blasphemy" in using crucifixion as a symbol of extreme hatred and a wish to do extreme violence to someone whose words and actions are not acceptable to certain segments of a population, since Jesus Christ wasn't the only historical figure who was crucified. To me, this painting symbolizes the extreme hatred and wish to do harm to our 44th president by certain extremists in this country.
All my life I've heard the expression "I was crucified" in reference to receiving extreme criticism and or rebuke from someone. How many times have we heard the threat "I'll crucify you!" as a warning to someone whose ideas or actions we disagree with?
This painting is an allegorical reference to how one half of this country has treated President Obama.
Apparently, the truth stings.
And so people who disagree with Mr. D'Antuono's work wish to see him crucified for his interpretation.