Aurora Public Library
Artist: Yafang Shi
Date of Action: March 6-7, 2023
Region: North America
Location: Aurora, ON, Canada
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Aurora Public Library
Description of Artwork: Yafang Shi is a photographer, poet, and journalist. The Aurora Public Library hosted an exhibit about social movements for women's rights on the gallery wall of the library. The exhibit, from March 6 to April 15, aimed to commemorate International Women's Day. Shi's work consisted of ten 24-inch by 36-inch posters with eight photo collages inspired by social movements for women's rights. She also produced a poem for the exhibition. Two of the photos with signs that read "Stop Ford" in a women's march were ruled inappropriate by the library.
The Incident: The opening day of the installation, the library chose to revoke the artwork containing the "Stop Ford" signs and the poem that included comments regarding Donald Trump. The library did not release a statement on this specific case, but in other instances they have explained that it is a publicly-funded institution that does not participate in partisan politics. Shi has said that the photo with the words "Ford erodes freedoms" was approved by the library in November.
Results of Incident: Two weeks after the initial ruling, the library board decided to review its public art policy. The board reversed its decision and allowed the exhibit to proceed uncensored.