More than 650,000 high school students have participated in the Congressional Art Competition. Each year, the winning artwork is put on display in the Capitol building for a year. However, the painting that won fourth place currently hangs in the office of a Democratic Representative Lou Correa, The Orange County Register (TOCR) reported.
The painting, which Correa explains as, “You take it in the context of a lady, probably a Muslim American – with all that’s going on, she’s a proud American,” to the TOCR. “That’s what it says to me.” It’s a painting of the Lady Liberty as a Muslim woman in a hijab.
“This is an art competition for our high school students,” he said. “I want out students to express themselves through art. To take it down would signal that this is not welcome and that would send the wrong message,” he said.
However, it has outraged many Americans who claim that this is ‘offensive’. “Ultimately, to attribute a specific religion to the Statue of Liberty is inaccurate, unprofessional and offensive,” a member of the group told The Washington Post. “In addition, the painting displays the torch of the Statue of Liberty, not as the heralded beacon of light, but rather held awkwardly to one side — in a perplexing, even disturbing, manner.”
“It’s a bad example for our congressman,” said Orange resident Mike McGertrick, an activist with We the People Rising. “He shouldn’t have anything religious in his office. … I would like to see our Congress people be right-down-the-line patriotic.”
We the People Rising want to see this portrait removed from the wall of their local representative’s office and want it done soon: they’ve already threatened to disrupt business as usual and protest the office on Sept. 11.
Correa isn’t backing down. In an August 8 post on Instagram, Correa wrote: “There are some who #hate this painting and want me to take it down. I see a young woman who is trying very hard to show people that she is an #American. If I took down her #art, I’d be telling the world her experiences don’t matter and she did something wrong. This is her country too, and she earned that spot on my wall.”
So far, he’s remained true to his word and the painting remains on his wall, showing support for people who have been on the receiving end of Trump’s wrath.