(Memphis) A university of Memphis professor used art to try to start a conversation. Instead, he almost landed in jail.
Art Professor Cedar Nordbye says he's not happy with how the University of Memphis plans to handle its budget problems so he put art around campus opposing the cuts.
The messages the art professor silk screened around this campus where no bigger than an iPhone but still, custodians were told to scrub them off and that caused some damage.
With a squeegee and some paint, Nordbye thought he had a brilliant idea.
“Did anything go through your mind like ‘maybe this is not a good idea’?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.
“It did actually, what occurred to me was that there was potential that it could be seen as vandalism,” said Nordbye.
And sure enough, the little message he printed around the University of Memphis got tagged as graffiti.
“The campus police department used surveillance cameras to find out who had done it,” said Dr. Richard Evans, the faculty senate president.
“So the police had me come in a make a statement and told me they're carrying out an investigation,” said Nordbye.
In the end, police decided not to pursue the case but the U of M senate asked Nordbye to publicly apologize, which he did. However…
“I would do it again and I don't think I did anything wrong,” said Nordbye.
Nordbye believes his art was just trying to start a conversation.
The message read "The University of Memphis is not a business”.
It comes while the university plans to cut $20 million from programs including the art department and change the way it does the budget in general.
More money would go to the departments that pull in the most students and bring in the most cash.
“We are already having cuts and already feeling the impact,” said Nordbye.
He says his art's aim was to start a discussion.
After all, the paint he used washes off with soap and water.
The only damage the campus suffered from his silk screen was the elevator where a custodian thought he had to scrub it off.
“I would rather have him not done any damage or cost anybody any money to make his point,” said Dr. Evans.
Still, Nordbye's art got his point across.
Most of Nordbye's 12 prints around campus have been cleaned up.
In the future, he says he plans to probably make printed tee shirts instead to stand up against the current budget plans being discussed over the next few months.