Campus Reform | ‘Puppetry's Racial Reckoning’: UConn spends $3k to expose racial bias in puppetry

‘Puppetry's Racial Reckoning’: UConn spends $3k to expose racial bias in puppetry

University of Connecticut's exhibition “Puppetry’s Racial Reckoning” runs through the month of October.

The university is also hosting a string of discussions connected to the exhibition.

The art of puppetry is a history of racism. 

That assessment is the takeaway from the Fall Puppet Forum Series, a string of talks at the University of Connecticut, an program that accompanies the university's Ballard Institute and Museum Puppetry's exhibition, Puppetry’s Racial Reckoning.

University of Connecticut spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz told Campus Reform that in addition to consultations with various faculty throughout the university, staff spent $3,000 on creating the display spaces.

[RELATED: UVM revises museum to fight against ‘racist and imperialist foundations’]

University of Connecticut student Isadore Johnson questioned the value of that appropriation when speaking to Campus Reform

“Although I think puppetry's racial reckoning is of dubious value," Johnson said. "I also question the importance of the taxpayers supporting puppetry museums in general."

“Exhibiting Racism in Museums” was the October 14 installment in the discussion series, during which speakers discussed stereotypes they claim are perpetuated in the art form.

[RELATED: UMich art museum mandates antiracism training…even for gift shop employees]

During the event, Dr. Jungmin Song, a UConn adjunct faculty member and the exhibition curator, stated that the non-Western puppets made by Frank Ballard — the puppeteer and professor for which the Ballard Institute is named — reflected ethnic characters prevalent in pop culture at the time. 

For example, one puppet made in 1968 closely represented a character from The Face of Fu Manchu, a 1965 thriller film. 

Campus Reform reached out to Dr. Song for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.