Student art on HB2 and its partial repeal vanishes from Campus Y courtyard
Senior Grace Thorpe said she expected her art installation “HBToilet” to be vandalized — but not to this extent.
The project — which featured a taped and chained shut toilet, surrounded by a fence — disappeared between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
The piece, located in the courtyard of the Campus Y, was made for her ARTS 337 class and was supposed to criticize an institution. Her project was a response to House Bill 2 and the partial-repeal bill and was about visibility and engagement, encouraging people who see it to participate in politics. A sign on the toilet read “Out of Order until Real Repeal.”
Thorpe said this piece is supposed to show the inaccessibility of bathroom spaces and discrimination against LGBTQ people because of this legislation.
“No one knew anything,” Thorpe said. “It wasn’t facilities, maintenance, anything. So no one knows who took it. It just vanished without a trace.”
Without security cameras in the area and with no one coming forward, Thorpe said she has no clues as to what happened to her art piece.
Thorpe said whoever took the project had the intent to as it was chained to a light pole and would require planning and work.
“It didn’t seem like just an innocent passing by, decide to mess with it kind of situation,” Thorpe said. “It seemed pretty filled with intent.”
Thorpe's friend Giulia Curcelli said in a statement the art piece was a public way of keeping conversation going.
“I think this is a great example of Grace using her platform as an art student to make an important statement and continue this conversation,” Curcelli's statement said.
Jina Valentine, Thorpe’s professor in the ARTS 337 class, said she has seen past projects removed or ignite debates, but never taken.
“She came to class, and we were just talking about how everyone's pieces were going because we will have presentations for the final in a week and a half, and she said 'Well, mine disappeared,'" Valentine said.
Valentine said the Campus Y granted Thorpe permission to have her project in the courtyard, and they went through all the necessary processes.
Valentine said although this is theft, they want to keep the conversation about the work and the message.
“We were just talking about how to turn this into something positive," Valentine said.
Thorpe said she is still figuring out what to do next, but until then, she is not discouraged from making more art.
“I’m definitely not letting this go so easily without resistance or without a fight.”