Controversial art project blown out of proportion according to students involved

Viral video of art project causes discussion amongst student body


Matthew San Martin

Despite the polarizing views of the student body across Twitter, Skidmore and Stunkard both agreed that there are no hard feelings between them.

People would do almost anything for money. This was Freshman Genevieve Stunkard’s point when she cut a fellow classmate’s hair during a performance art project that went viral on social media last week.

Adjunct professor Bill Ivey assigned  a performance art project to his students that prompted them to “Create an experience” for his Foundations to Art & Design class.

“I don’t think the performance art thing was on the curriculum,” Stunkard said. “He was letting us have so much more freedom than what we were supposed to have.”

All students participating in the assignment were required to list their top three ideas that they were interested in, and were told to give 10 details about each of their topics. Stunkard’s project idea was approved by Ivey on the Wednesday leading up to their performance date.

“[Ivey] told me my piece was really potent and there was a lot of meaning in there and he complimented me on that,” Stunkard said.

“Mr. Ivey is no longer an employee of the university,” according to Sharon Nell, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.

Ivey was not able to be reached for comment

Stunkard’s project involved blindfolding a volunteer from the class and letting her cut three pieces of hair of her choosing in exchange for $500. Three people volunteered to be part of the project, and Freshman Maddie Skidmore won a game of rock paper scissors to earned her spot as the volunteer for Stunkard’s project. The class was prompted by Stunkard to step outside under the patio and were told not to talk or interfere with the performance. Skidmore was blindfolded and her hair was cut, but the agreed upon $500 was burned in a plastic trash can. Stunkard did not specify whether the money was real or just a prop.

“I looked into the bucket and my stomach just dropped, but I do admit that me letting someone chop my hair off for money was stupid,” Skidmore said. “The second I left the class I just started bawling,” she added.

The video of the performance art project was shared on Twitter and went viral in the days to follow, gaining more than 2,000 views before being deleted by the original poster.

“The social media video offered a really narrow perspective,” Stunkard said. “Those people don’t know me. I don’t have any intent to harm anyone.”

However, Skidmore had a different viewpoint concerning the attention the video was getting.

“I think the video on Twitter did good and bad for me. All of my feelings were validated and someone even offered to give me a free haircut,” Skidmore said.

Despite the polarizing views of the student body across Twitter, Skidmore and Stunkard both agreed that there are no hard feelings between them.

“We had a conversation and we both agreed that the thing that bothered us the most was just how big people made it when it wasn’t a big deal,” said Stunkard.   

“I don’t have any regrets, but I do know I won’t do anything like that ever again,” Stunkard said.

“Everyone involved with it is okay. If we’re okay, I think everyone else should be okay.”