The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Abortion controversy arises at NW art event

By Francés Matteck/editor-in-chief

After popping hundreds of balloons for what they thought was an homage to Texas wildflowers, participants in NW Campus’ Dada Day celebration Wednesday learned that each balloon symbolized babies aborted since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion.

Professor Eduardo Aguilar began inflating the balloons early that morning and, on some of each color, attached labels identifying which balloons represented which wildflower. For example, the purple balloons were labeled “lavender.”

Aguilar explained his interactive performance.

“The next step is to liberate the air from the balloons. This will be done to the tune of, it’s actually one minute of, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.”

When all 500 balloons were inflated, the students, faculty and staff present were handed toothpicks.

After reading an artist’s statement on the balloons and the wildflowers they represented, Aguilar instructed participants to “murder” all of them, pick up the pieces and deposit them in a see-through plastic box he referred to as a sarcophagus.

“The dead balloons are going into this sarcophagus. As you can see, some of them have already died by natural cause. The other ones, we are going to murder,” he said. “When you finish with them, if you can, gather them up and put them in this sarcophagus for me because they are going to be entombed.”

As the music played, members of the audience popped balloons until all were deflated. He then revealed the pro-life nature of his interactive piece.

“These 500 balloons are going to represent the 50 million unborn babies that have been murdered in the USA since Roe v. Wade in 1973,” he said. “If you are 36 years old and younger, you can thank your mother for choosing life. Abortions in the U.S.A. continue to be performed at a rate of one every 23 seconds.

“Abortion is the most common surgery in America. The Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade had awarded legal protection to this evil. Worse yet, it is called a constitutional right even though it is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. And it is clearly wrong. Sadly, for abortionists, it has become a license to kill.”

Not everyone who participated in the event agreed with Aguilar’s statement or the method in which he made it.

“There was one person who brought it to our attention that did not feel it was appropriate,” said Dr. Joe Rode, vice president for student development and educational support services.

Rode said it was an understandable objection and the person was well within his/her right to approach the school with the objections.

“Our stance has always been that if there’s going to be any controversial material, it needs to be advertised up front,” Rode said.

The only advertisement of Aguilar’s piece was a banner that read, “Homage to the Endangered Texas Wild Flowers.”

Aguilar was unaware of any policy to advertise when a controversial issue would be presented.

The curator of the event wanted something controversial, Aguilar said. He chose to do this because he had successfully done a similar presentation at a community college in south Texas, except there he only used 100 balloons.

Mike Matthews, NW humanities divisional dean, was not informed that Aguilar would be making a statement on abortion with his piece.

“I was told that each one balloon represented I believe 1,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade,” Matthews said. “That’s the first I’d ever heard that the balloons represented 1,000, each balloon. There were 500 balloons. Each one represented 1,000 abortions. It was a surprise to me.”

After all of the balloons had been popped, Aguilar informed Matthews that his intention was to make the balloons and the sarcophagus a permanent part of the art collection on NW Campus.

Aguilar is working on a title for the piece.

“It’s going to probably be called ‘500 Murdered Balloons,’ and then there’s going to be a colon, and then I’m just going to say 500 x 100,000 = 50 million,” he said. “That’s the number of unborn babies murdered, or aborted, since Roe v. Wade in 1973.”

After the event, Matthews received an e-mail that had originally been sent to NW Campus president Elva LeBlanc regarding the exhibition.

“There is an employee here who is pro-choice, and he said if he had known this was a pro-life event, he would not have been there,” Matthews said. “However, it was not ever announced as a pro-life event. It was a Dada Day event, and it was a non-political event.”

Matthews will show the objection to Aguilar.

“Faculty are aware, that are planning events, that we work on making them unbiased and objective and educational,” Matthews said.

The intent of the presentation was not meant to be offensive, Aguilar said.

“The visual arts department, of course, presents art,” he said. “Nudity, for example, that people would find offensive, but they need to be aware that it’s an art department. As long as it’s not pornographic, and there was not pornography or obscenity related to this piece.

“It was just an issue that was contemporary.”

However, the complaint stems from the issue that participants unknowingly took part in a pro-life demonstration that was not advertised as such.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian