Exhibit modified for Lewiston showing set to open Friday in New York state

This piece by Katrina Majkut was omitted when the "Unconditional Care" exhibit was in Lewiston.

An exhibit censored earlier this year by Lewis-Clark State College is set to go on display this week at a gallery in Rochester, N.Y.

Several elements from “Unconditional Care: Listening to People’s Health Needs” were omitted in March when the exhibit, curated by New York City-based artist Katrina Majkut, was installed at LCSC’s Center for Arts & History in downtown Lewiston.

Those pieces will be included at Rochester Contemporary Art Center when the exhibit opens there Friday, Sept. 1, Majkut said.

Lewis-Clark State College administrators declined to comment at the time beyond a statement issued by spokesperson Logan Fowler: “After obtaining legal advice, per Idaho Code Section 18-8705, some of the proposed exhibits could not be included in the exhibition,” Fowler said via email, citing a law commonly referred to as the No Public Funds for Abortion Act.

The college has no further comment, Fowler said earlier this week.

Among the artwork excluded from the Center for Arts & History display in March were videos by New York City artist Lydia Nobles that included women discussing reproductive health care, including abortion experiences.

Also turned away were a cross-stitch piece depicting emergency contraception and accompanying explanation by Majkut and a reproduction of a letter to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger that was part of a work by Chicago-based artist Michelle Hartney.

“Experiencing my series ‘As I Sit Waiting’ in dialogue with other artists’ work, as Majkut envisioned, is really exciting,” Nobles said via email this week. “I never anticipated my work being removed for referencing abortion access. It’s empowering to receive support from Rochester Contemporary Art Center and I hope that viewers feel moved by the people in my series sharing their abortion stories.”

A placard that will accompany the previously rejected works reads, in part: “The following artworks by Katrina Majkut, Lydia Nobles, and Michelle Hartney were censored by Lewis-Clark State College administrators and lawyers in the first exhibition of Unconditional Care in March 2023. As a state school, it decided that the artworks violated Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Act, which is meant to stop publicly funded institutions from ‘providing, performing, or participating in an abortion.’

“The events at Lewis-Clark State College are an example of how anti-abortion laws are being abused and used to marginalize, minimize, and all together stop other freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.”

Majkut, who came to the opening reception at the Center for Arts & History in March, discussed the wider implications of her experience in Lewiston in a phone interview last week.

“It’s just representative of what is happening in a larger capacity in the United States right now,” she said.

While frustrating, the censorship had a silver lining, Majkut said.

“It actually gave more attention to the issue than had nothing been done by the school,” she said.

Images of the censored artwork were published in Inland 360 and the Lewiston Tribune, and the censorship was covered by national and international news outlets, including The New York Times and The Guardian of Manchester, England.

“Locally, I really appreciated the outpouring of support both in terms of who came to the opening and messages passed along … from the gallery from people who appreciated having an art show like that,” Majkut said. “They learned a lot.”

Stone (she/her) can be contacted at mstone@inland360.com.