Capilano University seizes instructor’s sculpture of president with poodle

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      It’s a work in progress: Capilano University president Kris Bulcroft wrapped in a U.S. flag, with a poodle, and all.

      But it’s gone, and its creator, George Rammell, a CapU instructor of sculpture, wants the piece returned.

      “It’s ridiculous!” Rammell told the Straight by phone today (May 12) about the seizure of his work from the university grounds.

      “I mean, we live in Canada for God’s sakes,” Rammell continued. “We’re not living in China or Iran.”

      In a news release, Rammell said that he discovered the unfinished sculpture titled Blathering on in Krisendom gone from CapU’s sculpture area last Wednesday (May 7).

      “I immediately called security and the guard told me that orders were given by the top level of the Administration to seize it. I could hardly believe my ears. The Administration had ordered my piece removed off campus to an undisclosed location, without any consultation or prior discussion. I was shocked and not sure if this was Canada,” Rammell stated in the release.

      He continued: “I called the RCMP to report the theft. The officer arrived and he said he had been talking to Administration: they had asked him if they would be liable if they destroyed the sculpture. They were making assumptions (with the aid of their lawyer), believing they owned the work because it was made on university property. They are concerned that if returned to me I’d continue to exhibit it.

      “Last May President Bulcroft held a public forum where she asked everyone to forgive her violations of process and follow her into the future. She denounced my effigy as sexist, misogynist bullying. But several faculty members who teach Woman’s Studies didn’t see anything sexist about the piece whatsoever. In fact they chastised the President’s attempts to gain sympathy in such a manner.

      “I started the project at the request of a faculty member and I had the financial support of my Faculty Association.

      “I recently showed Blathering on in Krisendom at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, and in a solo show in the Studio Art Gallery at Cap U, but I don’t consider the piece finished. As with much of my work it’s continuing to evolve. I now want my sculpture returned immediately so I can continue sculpting it. I have other exhibition intentions for this on-going project. I see the Administration’s illegal seizure as part of their ongoing assumption that they can ignore the basic rights of employees and ignore their responsibilities to consult. The BC Supreme Court ruled in favor of our faculty’s position that the university violated the University Act in making unilateral cuts to Programs. These art Programs carry a legacy across the country and will be impossible to replace.”

      On the phone, Rammell explained that Bulcroft was brought in from the U.S. to head CapU, hence the American flag in the sculpture. He added that some of Bulcroft’s promotional materials show her with a poodle.

      Brita Harrison Brooke, manager of stakeholder relations for CapU, didn’t have an immediate comment. Brooke wrote the Straight to say that the university’s vice president for finance and administration, Cindy Turner, will be speaking to Rammell.

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      Howard Beale

      May 12, 2014 at 4:54pm

      The Stephen Harper Approach to leadership, I see. Thin skinned arrogant cowardice.

      HarperCon Fascism tricle down effect

      May 12, 2014 at 5:01pm

      This is what you get when you have money run almost everything , More HarperCONstipation style influence . Well done Mr. Rammell. I LOVE art .

      Pistachio

      May 12, 2014 at 6:30pm

      Dictatorship in academia...
      This statue is fantastic but Capilano is now all about money, no longer about arts.

      Joseph

      May 12, 2014 at 8:14pm

      Both the President & the Vice President Academic are American. I guess the Board of Directors don't think Canadians are good enough. Capilano doesn't even rank on the McLean's University rankings of universities and in fact pulled out of it for the 2014 year. I think the Board needs to look to the small primarily undergraduate universities on the East Coast and start recruiting excellent Canadian talent if they want excellence in Canada.

      Michael Puttonen

      May 12, 2014 at 8:28pm

      Great political theatre. BC needs more of this! Congratulations to the Faculty Assn. who paid for it. What a coup. The subject of this glorious tribute is behaving exactly as depicted by the artist! He must be gratified. Benjamin said, "For the revolutionary struggle is not fought between capitalism and the mind. It is fought between capitalism and the proletariat." We all know the story of Rockefeller and Diego Rivera's inconvenient truth. It is a measure of the times that todays college, er sorry, university president can "go Rockefeller". By this action, the administration have doomed themselves to weenie status. All their past decisions, not just this one are now suspect.

      Disgusted

      May 12, 2014 at 9:46pm

      The difference between Iran and China and Canada is that the people in Iran and China are under no illusion that they're free.

      Not Amused

      May 13, 2014 at 9:03am

      This president is in way over her head. But let's face it. It's the board that really needs to open its eyes to the fact that her presence is destroying the reputation that previous faculty, administrators and staff worked so hard to build. What a shame.

      Greg Robinson

      May 13, 2014 at 9:31am

      Wow, what a bad move! Surely there must have been some discussion about the way such a move would be portrayed by the media and perceived among the public and university community before the action was taken. So, instead of a few people knowing about and/or seeing this sculpture, we now have a whole slew of us quite aware of it, what it looks like, what it depicts and the narrative behind it!

      I work at Capilano U and I knew nothing about this piece! Not that I've been laced tight into the push-back to the administration's cuts, but this wasn't being talked about by anyone I know, nor was it on the radar of the local media that I was aware of. And now it is!

      As an artist and someone working with arts students I have zero hesitation in throwing my support 100% behind George Rammel and will add my voice to those calling for the immediate return of this work of art. Not only is this confiscation un-Canadian and against basic principles of freedom of expression; it also appears wholly unwise and calls into question the judgment of those responsible.

      RUK

      May 13, 2014 at 9:59am

      If this was being done on his own time in his own facilities, then George Rammell has suffered a theft.

      However, based on the article, he would appear to be an employee in a facility that is headed by Kris Bulcroft, of whom he has made a gigantic, broad-strokes mockery.

      If he was to stand in a courtyard yelling at the top of his lungs that his boss is ugly and wraps herself in the American flag, what do you think his career prospects would be?

      It's ridiculous for him to be openly insubordinate and expect no reaction.

      This whining to the press has been reasonably successful in that it does show his (technically decent) sculpting skills to the wider world, but come on. No employer is obliged to allow this.

      Jonathan

      May 13, 2014 at 10:01am

      I am so against this. Everyone who wants to should send an email to kbulcroft@capilanou.ca (Capilano president) and voice your concerns.

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