Evergreen’s most controversial image?

This photograph by Steve Davis was taken at an on-campus protest against the first Gulf War in the winter of 1991. During the event, a group of students set fire to an American flag—exercising a right that the Supreme Court had recently upheld as protected expression in the decision on United States v. Eichman.


This spring we included this image, which shows a young woman holding the burning flag over her head, in a gallery show depicting protest at Evergreen. In a matter of weeks, the picture was defaced, reprinted, and stolen.  Rather than replace the print again, we’d like to move the picture online and use this opportunity to begin a conversation about the photograph’s impact.


Do you find this image controversial? Why or why not? How do think it reflects on Evergreen and its students? Please join the conversation.

Evergreen’s most controversial image?

4 Responses

  1. People have the freedom to express themselves even if they chose to be fucking idiots. Burning the American Flag does nothing to stop a war and not to mention the girl in the flag was getting her school partially paid for by the big bad government. This does a lot of good and bad and burning the American flag is no better then occupying a country. I hope this young lady has grown up and realized how fucking stupid her actions were LOL

    Bob Backlund June 12, 2012 at 8:11 am #
  2. When calling others idiots you may want to use proper grammar.

    Dezi Rose August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm #
  3. I had really hoped that people would engage with the image, and have to admit to feeling disappointed that 1) so few people seem to have any interest in a thoughtful conversation about the implications of this photo, and 2) that commentators are already taking aim at each other rather than engaging the question at hand. I really believe that the Photoland community can do better in using the Internet as a forum for genuine consideration of the power of photography.

    Aim higher, Photolanders!

    bittles August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am #
  4. This is such a good photo. To me, the photo itself isn’t controversial, it’s just what is, or was and beyond that, it provides historical context for both Evergreen and a nation. It also raises questions, a lot of questions that are still relevant today for both the college and the nation – the meaning of patriotism, the right of protest, the value of independent thought and expression, etc. Precisely because it raises those questions and makes people feel something, anything, this photo goes beyond good to great. A big step, a huge step in fact. That it was defaced, then stolen, is perhaps the greatest compliment to both the photo and the photographer. Thank you for posting this.

    tom hyde August 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm #