ATLANTA -- An Atlanta artist is frustrated after his sculpture about 9/11 was turned down from a national competition for being too controversial.
It was a miscommunication between the city where the competition is held, and the curators who judge the competition. The piece was approved by the curators to be displayed at City Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan for ArtPrize, an annual competition. But when the city saw it, they thought it was far too controversial to be in city hall. It is a provocative piece called "Paradise Built on the Bones of the Slaughtered."
It shows the twin towers and then the burned religious scripts of the Torah, Quran, and Bible.
Atlanta artist Nabil Mousa says it's influenced by his upbringing.
"Being born in Syria I grew up around all 3 religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism," he said.
Raised as a Christian, he said the sculpture is meant to question what people do in the name of religion.
Photos of "Paradise Built on the Bones of the Slaughtered"[Warning: Some people may find the images within the gallery offensive]
"When you look at 9/11 and you look at this sculpture, you have to think, how can someone commit these atrocities in the name of God and think that God is on their side," he said.
He knew some people would take offense to the sculpture, but didn't think it should be banned outright.
"Whatever happened to freedom of expression? Art is supposed to be a way for us to express ourselves and be able to do it without judgment, without censorship," he said.
According to ArtPrize, the artist had thought the curator managing entries at City Hall had approval from the city to display the piece -- but the city did not actually give that approval. Mousa thinks people should have a chance to look at the sculpture and decide what they think for themselves.
"I tell viewers that before you make a judgment, go look at it, go study the piece, ask yourself, why would an artist create this piece, what is the reason behind it," he said.
Even though he sculpture was turned away, he says he still plans to take it to Grand Rapids and try to find a way to enter it in to the competition, and continue the conversation.
"I am going to Grand Rapids, I am going to ArtPrize, and I am going to leave it up to the people of Grand Rapids to find a solution and hopefully we can open up a dialogue between all 3 faiths. And I would love to see love come out of this instead of hatred. Because if we focus on love, this would never have happened," he said.