Artwork made from semen is causing a stir in Grand Rapids, Mich. after the paintings were included in a city-wide art competition — partially funded by tax dollars.
The three paintings were created using slightly more than four ounces of semen infected with HIV, according to the artist — EA Conner.
“These paintings were created as a reminder that we all come in contact with people every day who are HIV positive,” he wrote on his ArtPrize profile page. “The red spots on the Scorpion and Bio-hazard paintings are actual HIV positive semen and the gold spots on the Red Ribbon painting are HIV positive.”
The competition is also partially funded by city, state, and federal tax dollars. A spokesperson for ArtPrize told Fox News they received $20,000 from the city of Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority and $3,100 from the Michigan Counsel of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
In 2011, the organization received a National Endowment for the Arts grant worth $100,000.
The bulk of their $2.1 million budget comes from private donations, the spokesperson said.
The controversial exhibit is currently displayed in a downtown nightclub.
“ArtPrize neither funds the installation or production of any art exhibited during the 19-day event, and corporate and private dollars fund all of our prizes and awards,” the spokesperson said.
They stressed that it was simply one out of more than 1,500 art installations by more than 1,700 artists.
So what’s ArtPrize’s reaction to the semen painting?
“ArtPrize is a radically open art competition and social experiment,” the spokesman told Fox News. “Each year, it offers an increasingly diverse mixture of art, none of which is selected or curated by the ArtPrize organization or its staff.”
Local residents aren’t sure what to make of the paintings — and voiced their opinions on Fox 17’s Facebook page.
“There’s an uneasiness of it to it, it does make me feel a little uncomfortable, but at the same time, I get it.” Audrey Caldwell of Kalamazoo told Fox 17.
“I wish I could be police or politically correct,” one reader wrote. “This art is disgusting and truly nasty.”
“Definitely makes a statement that’s for sure, Kirk DePierre added.
“I am all for art and liberating messages, but that is gross,” another reader added.
Yet the display did have some supporters.
“Freedom of speech people,” one reader wrote. “While i find it disgusting, and question the bio hazard on display I’m reminded that in someone’s mind this is art.”