In “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution,” Amber Hansen, an artist-in-residence at the University of Kansas, planned to cart five chickens,
housed in a nomadic coop, through the city of Lawrence in April. The chickens would be wheeled to various locations until April 21 when they would be
slaughtered in a public ceremony in Lawrence. The exhibition was supposed to stimulate public discussion over food and farming.
However, animal activists in Lawrence alerted the City Attorney’s Office, which informed Hansen that her plan to transport and kill the chickens
was illegal within city limits. The City Code prohibits willfully or maliciously killing any domestic animal.
Determination to stop the slaughter began on Feb. 8 when United Poultry Concerns and Animal Outreach of Kansas launched an Internet campaign igniting
animal activists, artists, scholars, and concerned citizens in Lawrence and around the world to protest to the University of Kansas Spencer Museum of
Art and related institutions that supported the project.
Renowned visual artist Sue Coe, author of Dead Meat and Cruel, was joined by professor of art history at Northwestern University, Stephen
Eisenman; Justice for Animals Arts Guild founder Mary Britton Clouse; and University of Kansas professor Elizabeth Schultz in an outpour of opposition
to the project arguing that it was cruel, inartistic, and not “revolutionary” at all but an act of conventional violence to defenseless
animals. Protecting chickens instead of hurting them is the revolutionary action, protesters proclaimed.
The Bird Rescuer by Sue Coe
In an article on Feb. 29 in The Kansas City Star, “Animal activists celebrate as Lawrence blocks chicken art project,” United Poultry Concerns president Karen Davis said: “We feel this project and our response to it has helped Amber even though the
original project has been blocked. We also feel that she has been introduced to a sensibility about animals that maybe she hadn’t been exposed to
The Kansas City Star
noted that when it first reported on the project on Feb. 18, “a barrage of criticism was already beginning to reach the city.”
Following a meeting with Amber on Feb. 27, Kansas activist Judy Carman and University of Kansas professor Elizabeth Schultz confirmed there would be no
chickens on display in public and no chickens publicly slaughtered as planned. The closing ceremony on April 21 will include at least one vegan dish,
and Amber has invited Judy and Elizabeth to be among the speakers at the event.
United Poultry Concerns and Animal Outreach of Kansas will continue working with allies in the arts to implement a local and national “No Animals
in the Arts” policy as has been implemented by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
UPC president Karen Davis told The Kansas City Star: “We do not believe that live animals should be treated as museum specimens or
be art objects and we certainly don’t consider the slaughter of animals to be artistic.” To view our campaign alerts, visit