Capilano University seizes instructor’s sculpture of president with poodle

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.

Comments (42) Add New Comment
Howard Beale
The Stephen Harper Approach to leadership, I see. Thin skinned arrogant cowardice.
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Rating: +47
HarperCon Fascism tricle down effect
This is what you get when you have money run almost everything , More HarperCONstipation style influence . Well done Mr. Rammell. I LOVE art .
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Rating: +32
Pistachio
Dictatorship in academia...
This statue is fantastic but Capilano is now all about money, no longer about arts.
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Rating: +50
Joseph
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.
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Rating: +48
Michael Puttonen
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.

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Rating: +65
Disgusted
The difference between Iran and China and Canada is that the people in Iran and China are under no illusion that they're free.
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Rating: +45
Not Amused
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.
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Rating: +42
Greg Robinson
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.
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Rating: +31
RUK
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.
Rating: -48
Jonathan
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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Rating: +4
Downhill Cap
Since Cap was designated as a university it has gone downhill.
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Rating: +28
Barry Shell
Incredible development. I saw this work on display and viewed it as satire--rather appropriate satire given recent history at Capilano U. What a bad move by the administration. They will surely find themselves in court again as the faculty association will surely press charges, and possibly criminal charges this time. Perhaps Rammel's next satirical piece will depict Bulcroft behind bars, with her sad poodle looking in mournfully.
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Rating: +15
A cap u studemy
This sculpture is so ugly, and defamatory of what bulcroft looks like. I would steal it and hide it from the world too.
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Rating: -20
Bill Thomson/ Burnaby Arts Council
This smacks of censorship, a lack of openness to criticism, personal vendetta, and direct political interference by an administrator of a public institution towards a staff member. It does not look good for Cap U. to be recognized as a place for the suppression of creativity and freedom of expression. Shame on the Board of Directors of Cap U. and the administrator(s) for allowing such an undemocratic culture of process to fester in house. Obviously, in their rush to become a competitive, mature, and responsible place of learning in BC; they forgot fairness and are prepared to use any, or all means at their disposal to shut down any questioning of their philosophy and authority.
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Rating: +27
Michael Puttonen
Under the terms of the British Columbia Employment Standards Act (ESA), unless this employee actually did the sculpting as part of his terms of employment, i.e., during working hours under the direct or indirect control of his employer, he owns his work.

If it were otherwise, Cap U would be able to fire employees for the books they write, too. Or for writing propaganda for the Communist Party in their spare time... Nope... These things have all be decided long ago in law. His employer only owns the art that the employee might create as a condition of his employment.

If CapU has a problem with the artist/employee using the facilities, that is not a matter of employment law, except tangentially as a matter of internal workplace discipline, and really has nothing to do with the ownership question, as CapU will discover in due time. CapU better wake up. They should be seeking a settlement before things get worse.
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Rating: +16
Technowhiz

Mr. Rommel hasn't finished his piece...I suggest he finish it with an AK 47 hanging over her shoulder and sell it to the highest bidder. ..NRA??
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Rating: +6
@RUK
You're right. Cowardly and thin skinned but right. I would hope academia could be a little more mature in their reaction.
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Rating: +11
out at night
@ RUK

Sorry, works of creative expression and articles/art expressing contrary or controversial ideas and opinions are exempt from the sort of thing you're talking about. Maybe dressing up a big "Fuck you!" as art in order to be protected by academic freedom and freedom of expression is a back-door method that you and others find hard to countenance, but this is not, technically, insubordination. It's a piece of art made by an established artist that has been exhibited in a fine arts context, and therefore it is scrosanct. As it should be.

I personally think it's not a good piece. Still art though. Hands off!!
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Rating: +9
Kat
To be perfectly honest, the damage has already been done. Even if he never gets the sculpture back, its message is now spreading far more effectively than if it would have been left alone. She has sealed her own fate. If I were this professor, I would certainly still try to get my property back...but I'd also consider celebrating at the same time!
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Rating: +8
RUK @ out
No need to apologize for having a different view.

Anyway, you nailed it - it is the same as saying "fuck you" to his boss.

For that act of rebellion, obviously he should not be hauled off to jail. He should not be excommunicated, nor should his works be sprinkled with holy oils and set aflame as a lesson to the infidels.

He has every right to create art, to put it in a show or display it on his lawn.

But that's not what he did. He made a big, fuckyouish gargoyle that mocks his boss. You don't do that because you mean the boss to smile and approve. You do it to get a reaction.

He got the reaction. He embarassed the boss and she took his fuckyou away and now we are mocking her for hating the arts. Yay, he wins.

He's an asshole!
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Rating: -19

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