United Poultry Concerns
5 March 2012
Artist Upsets Animal Rights Community with Chicken Project

The University of Kansas Daily Kansan


By Kelsey Cipolla

Sunday, March 4, 2012

For five chickens that were almost killed, “The Story of Chickens” has a happy ending.

The chickens were slated to be slaughtered as part of a project, “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution,” by the University’s artist in residence Amber Hansen. Hansen tentatively planned on displaying the chickens in a coop near downtown Lawrence for several weeks before killing, cooking and serving them during a public dinner. Hansen’s goal is to show how far removed people have become from the food they eat.

Some students immediately wondered whether Hansen’s project would violate animal cruelty laws.

“This is legal?” said Jessica Joffe, a sophomore from St. Louis, when she first heard the chickens would be killed. “I feel like she could make her point some other way.”

Now Hansen has to.

Last week, she was informed that slaughtering the animals in Lawrence would violate the city’s animal cruelty ordinances. She revised the project, which will no longer include any chickens. An empty coop will instead be displayed, according to Hansen’s blog through RocketGrants.org.

The artist did not respond to requests for a comment.

Animal Outreach of Kansas founder Judy Carman worked to prevent the project from happening by reaching out to other animal rights advocates throughout the country and encouraging people to voice their concerns on the Spencer Museum of Art’s Facebook.

Last week, Carman and retired University professor Beth Schultz met with Hansen to discuss her project. Hansen offered to let Carman and Schultz speak at the finale on April 21. She is also allowing a vegan chef to prepare food at the finale dinner and gave permission for local artists to display work related to animal rights at a March 30 art display at The Lawrence Percolator, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing art and culture to audiences in town, at 1022 New Jersey.

Carman is grateful that the project gave animal rights advocates a chance to communicate their ideas.

“It’s given us a wonderful opportunity to talk publicly and raise awareness, get people thinking about that,” Carman said. “And that really was her goal to get people thinking about where the animals [they] eat come from and what they go through.”

Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, a Virginia-based organization that promotes fair treatment of chickens and other domestic fowl, was also active in protesting Hansen’s project. She issued five alerts relating to “The Story of Chickens” through UPC’s website and published letters from prominent artists asking Hansen not to proceed with her project.

Although Davis was upset about the chickens being confined, displayed, killed and eaten, she was also concerned about Hansen’s suggestion that there are humane ways to farm chickens.

“People often think because they’re told, misleadingly, that factory farming is the result of big corporations, whereas family farming is some kind [of] Hallmark card type of experience where animals are treated humanely and with respect,” Davis said. “That is not the case.”


For UPC’s Alerts about “The Story of Chickens,” see www.upc-online.org/entertainment.

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