OPINION: Donor says Covered Wagon artist's dog cruelty is 'reprehensible,' but removal of statue not appropriate

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New Statue

"Covered Wagon," a new statue in Gaylord Hall's courtyard, on Oct. 18.

My family and I were completely unaware of the indefensible Otterness video depicting a shocking and horrific cruelty to a dog. We were truly heartbroken to recently learn that such an act occurred and condemn it as reprehensible. My wife and I are long-time collectors and supporters of the arts and wish to share that love with the alma mater I cherish. My intent in donating “Covered Wagon” was to honor the university, its students, and alumni with an artistic version of its mascot and to broaden the type of art displayed at OU. To have it associated with an ugly instance of cruelty to animals is sad and wholly unintended.

Our family also believes in forgiveness and redemption. Mr. Otterness’s metamorphosis from the individual associated with that video into the artist whose joyful and whimsical pieces now receive worldwide acclaim, is a testament to such redemption. I do not believe an act to remove, and thereby censor a piece of art is the appropriate response. My family and I are hopeful that the installation will serve the purpose of honoring the University of Oklahoma and its mascot, and promoting a healthy dialog about all of the thought-provoking issues surrounding this piece.

William M. Obering is an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma and the donor of Tom Otterness's "Covered Wagon" statue outside of Gaylord Hall. 

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