18 July 2017

Proposal Regarding Living Animals in Art Projects


Animal Outreach of Kansas
P.O. Box 442454
Lawrence, KS 66044

Animal Outreach of Kansas logo

February 14, 2015

Saralyn Reece Hardy, Director
Spencer Museum of Art at The University of Kansas
1301 Mississippi
Lawrence, KS 66045

Proposal Regarding Living Animals in Art Projects

Dear Ms. Hardy,

Animal Outreach of Kansas, Elizabeth Schultz, United Poultry Concerns and the Justice for Animals Art Guild, respectfully request that the Spencer Museum of Art approve a policy that prohibits art displays that require the killing, confinement, use or harming of live animals. This has become an issue of considerable ethical debate in both the world of art and of animal rights. However, we believe that, while artists need to be free to express themselves, nevertheless this expression should not be at the expense of someone’s life or the cause of their suffering.

In the words of Mary Britton Clouse of the Justice for Animals Art Guild, “Art is about ideas. Animals are not ideas. They are as real as we are. Their suffering and deprivation are psychologically and biologically indisputable. . . . No act of self-expression is worth the life or liberty of another. Self-censorship is exercised by artists every moment of every day. The species used in violent art almost always conveniently fall into categories of animals afforded the least, or no, legal protection and consideration: animals used for food or experimentation, and “pests.” Violence toward another human being would never be mistaken for free expression, and neither should this.”

We have written below a suggested statement that we respectfully request the Board of Spencer Art Museum to include as part of their policy in supporting and/or displaying art at their facility. Here is our suggested statement:

“The Spencer Museum of Art at The University of Kansas will not support through financial aid, display, or in any other manner, the use of living animals in art projects or expressions. Using, harming, or killing animals as a form of ‘artistic expression’ will not be accepted or in any way tolerated by this Museum.”

Our hope is that this policy will not only prevent animal abuse and death by artists seeking your approval, but that it will also help the Board deal efficiently and quickly when such issues arise. This policy is also consistent with City of Lawrence ordinances addressing the displaying and killing of animals within the city limits of Lawrence, KS. The policy is also in keeping with the 2011 Resolution passed by the Task Force on the Use of Human and Animal Subjects in Art at the College Art Association (collegeart.org/resolutions) which included the phrase: “No work of art should, in the course of its creation, cause physical or psychological pain, suffering, or distress to an animal.”

We would all be happy to consult with you further on this matter. Please feel free to contact any of us with questions or considerations. Thank you very much for your kind attention to this compelling issue.


Judy Carman, M.A., Author and Co-Founder, Animal Outreach of Kansas
    312 N. 1925 Rd., Lecompton, KS 66050
    785-887-9965; judycarman@ymail.com; peacetoallbeings.com

Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns
    P.O. Box 150, Machipongo, VA 23405
    Office: 757-678-7875; Karen@upc-online.org
    www.upc-online.org; facebook.com/UnitedPoultryConcerns

Mary Britton Clouse
    Justice for Animals Arts Guild

Elizabeth Schultz, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, The University of Kansas Department of English