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Artist Byron Taylor Causes Controversy in Conservative Arkansas with “Offensive” Painting


‘Legacy II’ by Byron Taylor

Recently, the work of artist Byron Taylor has caused quite a bit controversy in conservative Little Rock, Arkansas; His piece entitled Legacy II was removed from The Arkansas League of Artists’ Spring Show at The Cox Center due to its graphic nature. The piece, according to Taylor’s website is a statement on the “endless persecution of Planned Parenthood and local efforts to further legislate abortion and women’s health”. Byron Taylor received a call on April 2nd, after Legacy II was selected to be displayed in the Spring Show; Sharon Franke, Secretary of the Arkansas League of Artists and Chairman of the ALA Spring Show, felt the painting was “offensive” and asked that Taylor pick it up later that day.  Instead, Byron Taylor met with Sharon Franke, ALA Board President Ed Rhodes and ALA Board Member Eddie Smith to defend his work and shared details of their meeting over social media:

“Ms. Franke refused to change her position, insisting that the painting is violent and a piece like that had no business in this venue [The Cox Center], especially since abortion is legal. I tried to explain that, if certain political entities had their way, it could be illegal in short order. She refused to budge and even accused me of trying to damage the ALA. I responded that it wasn’t my intention- I just wanted to hang a piece of my art, of which I am proud. That she was letting her personal bias get in the way of her duties as show chairman.  I then asked her if we needed to get lawyers involved, as I had two prominent ones backing me up. She started packing to leave and at this point, Ed [Rhodes] removed his piece from the wall and left. Sharon and I stayed, as she accused me of trying to damage the ALA and that it was just a stunt to get exposure. I assured her that the only exposure I was after was to show my painting in a show of a group which I had membership. Then she offered to refund my entry fee, or for me to bring in a different piece… She said, “I’d like you to take the piece down.”, and claimed family responsibilities and left.”.


Byron Taylor at The Arkansas League of Artists Spring Show with his controversial painting, ‘Legacy II’

Mr. Taylor refused to remove his piece that evening and instructed Ed Rhodes to return his own to the gallery, as well. At 11:00 AM the following morning, Sharon Franke called Taylor to apologize and made no further attempt to remove the piece; Although, according to Byron Taylor, he and Franke “agreed to disagree” regarding his motives behind hanging the piece.
This is not the first instance in which Taylor’s work has been censored by the Arkansas League of Artists;


Byron Taylor’s ‘Legacy I’

This repeated censorship only speaks to his talent. Another piece in the Legacy series entitled Legacy I was inspired by the overwhelming amount of gun violence in America. On Taylor’s site, he stated:

“This is what keeps me awake at night, reflecting on the world we’re leaving our children. As of January 27th, 2016, when the Gun Control piece was finished we’d had 847 gun deaths since the first of the year.”

An earlier series created by the artist, Deer Hannah, deals with love, loss and transience and depicts a woman gazing at various animal skulls. In the final painting of the series, But Only For Now, the woman contently lies cradling a human skull.


Byron Taylor is currently working on more paintings for his Legacy series and intends to delve into additional heated topics such as income inequality, pollution and species extinction.only-for-now
In the future, Byron Taylor plans to make prints of the controversial painting Legacy II available on his website due to high demand for the piece following his struggle to have it rightfully displayed.

You can learn more about Byron Taylor and his work on his website . Show Sharon Franke and others like her that censorship in the art community is unacceptable by following Byron on Twitter @btsculptor

Visit The Arkansas League of Artists website

All images used in this article are copyright of Byron Taylor.

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If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Possible Relatives: Photographs Inside Homes of the Recently DeceasedLife Before Death: Modern Postmortem PhotographyThe Bombing of GuernicaHector Pieterson: An Iconic Symbol of the ApartheidThe Anguished Man: Painted in Artist’s Blood Before SuicideThe Most Beautiful SuicideThich Quang Duc: Monk on Fire  and Fire Escape Collapse


Sister Smile is Dead: The Singing Nun’s Double-Suicide


Jeanne-Paule “Jeanine” Marie Deckers, famously known as ‘The Singing Nun’, was born in Belgium on October 17, 1933. Her parents owned a bakery in Brussels and hoped Jeanine would one day take over the family business. Instead, she enrolled in art school in Paris which she attended only briefly; After a nervous breakdown prompted by a failed engagement, Jeanine dropped out of school and joined the Dominican Fichermont Convent near Waterloo in 1959 at the age of twenty-six. There, she made a vow of poverty and took the name ‘Sister Luc-Gabrielle’. For the first time Jeanine Deckers, who had had a self-described “loveless” childhood,  felt like she was part of a family. She had written songs from an early age and was allowed to keep her beloved guitar which she had named ‘Sister Adele’.

At the convent, she wrote and sung folk songs about Catholic saints. The nuns were so impressed with Jeanine’s talents, they encouraged her to make a limited press album which could be sold at religious retreats and to visitors of the convent to raise money for the order’s mission in the Congo.
In October of 1961, with the support of convent leaders, Jeanine Deckers recorded her first album in the Phillips Recording Studio in Brussels. An executive at the studio heard Jeanine’s songs and convinced the order to allow commercial distribution of the record. Jeanine signed a contract with Philips Recording under, ‘Soeur Sourire’, a stage name chosen by the church; In English, the name translates to ‘Sister Smile’. In 1963 a song by Jeanine Deckers about the 13th century founder of the Dominican order was released in Belgium as a single. To Jeanine’s surprise, the song, ‘Dominique’ (which many of you may remember as the French song played repeatedly throughout American Horror Story: Asylum) quickly became a number one hit in Belgium.


Dominique‘s popularity spread; The song rose to #1 throughout Europe, even in areas where French was not a predominant language. By December of 1961 Dominique-mania hit America where the single by “The Singing Nun” held at number one on the charts for three weeks; To this day, Jeanine Deckers is the only Belgium to have released a #1 single in the United States. Between 1963-1964 the song was on the charts in eleven different countries and was ranked higher than songs released by The Beatles and Elvis Presley. The French song was re-recorded in Dutch, German, Japanese and Hebrew. Jeanine went on a world tour as ‘Soeur Sourire’ and even appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show despite disapproval from her Mother Superior. Jeanine Deckers’s album Her Joy, Her Songs sold over two million copies; Having taken a vow of poverty when she joined the Dominican order, all of Jeanie’s profits went directly to the convent. In 1966 The Singing Nun, a highly fictionalized American movie about Deckers’s life and career in the convent starring Debbie Reynolds was released.

By this time, Deckers had retreated from the public eye and began to question many of the Catholic church’s teachings. Jeanine, who thought The Singing Nun to be an “absolutely idiotic” movie, resented the attention Dominique‘s fame had brought to her.

‘The Singing Nun’, 1966

She began to receive countless letters and gifts from admirers which she found to be flagrantly inappropriate. After being given an award for Dominique’s success, she commented that she might as well have been handed a bomb. For Jeanine, who had always been painfully shy and suffered from crippling anxiety, the attention was too much for her. After Dominique‘s popularity had subsided and the album Her Joy, Her Song ceased to sell copies, the convent sent Deckers to receive secondary theology training. During her time at university, she began to question many of the Catholic church’s teachings and rebelled by regularly wearing lipstick and smoking cigarettes. There, she became reacquainted Annie Pecher,  a fellow theology student and nun.


Jeanine had first met Annie while working as a camp counselor in her youth. Annie, who was eleven years younger than Decker, was attending the camp and quickly became infatuated with Jeanine; Of course, Jeanine did not appreciate the attention. When Annie became an adult, she made a point to live near Jeanine and would often visit her at Fichermont Convent. Allegedly, at one time, when it seemed as though Jeanine was to be sent to another country on missionary work where Annie could not follow, Annie attempted to commit suicide. In 1968 Jeanine Deckers released a new album and planned a tour throughout Canada. This album, in contrast to Her Joy, Her Songs, expressed many of Jeanine’s anti-Catholic views and included a song entitled ‘Sister Smile is Dead’. The most inflammatory song on the album, ‘Glory Be to God For the Golden Pill’, expressed Jeanie’s pro-birth control views.


Jeanine’s feministic views which were contrary to those of the Catholic church, caused a mass amount of controversy. The Canada tour ended abruptly when an audience in Quebec was horribly offended by Deckers’s new, anti-Catholic lyrics.

Due to this, as well as rumors that Jeanine and Annie were in a lesbian relationship, they were both ousted from the Catholic church. The two promptly moved into an apartment together; While the exact nature of their relationship at this time is unclear, allegedly,  Jeanine initially told Annie she did not want a sexual relationship with her.


According to Annie’s diaries, however, that changed over the years as the two eventually fell in love. A friend of the couple claimed that Ann was extremely possessive of Jeanine and that she had less freedom during their relationship than she did while living at the convent. In the 1970s, Jeanine Decker shared in an interview that she owed $63,000 in back taxes from her record sales. Having donated all the money directly to the church, she asked her former convent that had profited off her talents to pay the taxes she owed the Belgian government. The order refused to pay, claiming the small convent was financially troubled itself and did not have the funds. She engaged in a lengthy legal battle against Belgian tax authorities but unfortunately, there was not a proper paper trail to prove her earnings had been donated to the Dominican order. In an attempt to pay back the debt, Jeanine tried to restart her musical career.


 She released an album of religious and secular children’s songs called I Am Not a Star in Heaven under the name “Luc-Dominique”; Allegedly, this was because the church owned the rights to the name ‘Soeur Sourire’ however, Jeanine confessed she had come to hate that name. In 1982, Jeanine Deckers lost her final case against the Belgian tax authorities and was ordered to pay the $63,000 in back taxes. Later that year she recorded a synthesized, disco version of Dominique and released a music video in a second attempt to raise the $63,000 she owed; This only drove her further into debt.

Jeanine & Annie at the school in Wavre.

Over the years, Jeanine had become addicted to the medication prescribed for her anxiety. As Jeanine sunk into a severe depression due to her financial state, she became completely depended on tranquilizers and alcohol. According to Annie, Jeanine was having, “nervous breakdown after nervous breakdown.”.
In 1983, Jeanine and Annie opened a small boarding school for Autistic children in Wavre, Belgium which brought both of them great joy. Sadly, they were forced to close the school in 1985. After the school closed, Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pecher decided to enact a suicide pact. On March 29, 1985 Jeanine and Annie killed themselves in the apartment they shared in Wavre by taking a large dose of barbiturates with alcohol.


 Their bodies were discovered on April 1st in unit 47B of the Green Horizons Apartment Building at 144 Chaussee de Bruxelles. Anne left a suicide note explaining that the closing of the school and their massive debt were the primary reasons behind the double suicide. She stated in the note that she and Jeanine had not lost their faith and would like a church funeral. They also asked to be buried together and requested “privacy” [regarding the nature of their relationship] from the investigators who would discover their bodies. In the note, Annie wrote, “We have reached the end, spiritually and financially and now we go to God… We go to eternity in peace. We trust that God will forgive us. He saw us both suffer and he wont let us down. It would please Jeanine not to die from the world. She had a hard time on earth. She deserves to live in the minds of the people.”.

Jeanine Deckers and Annie Pecher were buried together in the Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Belgium. An inscription on their tomb reads, “J’ai vu voler son ame/A travers les nuages”. It is a line from Jeanine’s song Sister Smile is Dead and in English translates to, “I saw her soul fly across the clouds”.

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If you enjoyed this article, you might also like The Most Beautiful Suicide, Pray the Decay Away: Incorruptible Corpses and Other Forms of Natural Postmortem Preservation, Is Kicking the Bucket for Catholics Only?, and ‘Til Death Do We Part: Couple Married 60 Years Buried in Double Coffin

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SNEAK PEEK INSIDE Horrible History: Mass Suicides

The Badung Puputan
20 September 1906  


The Badung Puputan, 1906

In the 17th century, the Dutch began to set up trading posts throughout Bali. Originally, the relationship was solely trade-based but the Dutch admired Bali’s beauty and later set out to colonize the island. By the 1890s, after many years of war, the Dutch had taken control of the majority of Bali; Only the southern Balinese regencies of Tabanan, Klungkung, and Badung still refused to submit to Dutch rule. Despite sending a great number of troops to southern Bail in an attempt to enforce their control over the island, the Dutch were waiting for one of the three kingdoms to provoke them before staging a full-assault.
On May 27, 1905 a Chinese-owned ship called the ‘Sri Kumala’ wrecked on the Sanur Reef, approximately six kilometers (four miles) from the kingdom of Badung, located in modern-day Denpasar. The Balinese people worshiped the sea deity Batara Baruna; They believed the contents of wrecked ships were a gift from the gods and therefore, had a tradition of plundering them.
After Badung locals took copper and silver coins from the Sri Kumala, the ship’s owner complained to Dutch rulers and coerced the government into declaring a blockage on Badung. The owner of the Sri Kumala demanded that the Raja of Badung return the valuables taken from the ship or offer compensation. In response, the Dutch claimed indemnity of 7,500 florins from Gusti Gede Ngurah Denpasar, the Raja of Badung. Raja Ngurah was extremely insulted by the insinuation that his people had stolen the treasure when in their eyes, it was a gift from Batara Baruna. After the Rajah refused to pay, the Dutch sent troops to Badung to arrest the him at his palace.
On September 14, 1906 the Sixth Military Expedition of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army landed on the coast of Bali but it would be a long journey to reach Badung. First, troops passed through Kesiman and found that the local Raja, a vassal of Badung, had been killed by his own priest who had plunged a kris into his heart; The palace at Kesiman was in flames and the village had been deserted.
In Balinese culture this act is known as a ‘Puputan’, literally meaning “ending” or “finish”; It is considered to be the greatest sacrifice a Raja can make on behalf of their subjects. In lieu of surrendering to an enemy, when ‘Puputan’ is declared, the Raja is killed by the village priest in a ritualistic suicide which is then often followed by a fight to the death. The subjects will not only brutally kill the enemy during a Puputan, but also kill one another and themselves, until there is no one left alive. Participants in Puputan use a Kris, a traditional Indonesian dagger with an asymmetrical blade, to carry out the mass suicide. Krisses are believed to each have their own individual ‘essence’, bringing good or bad luck to the weapon’s owner. The act of Puputan was quite common in Bali between the years 1894-1908.
After reaching Kesiman, Dutch forces continued moving inland without encountering much resistance. When they reached kingdom of Tabanana, local Raja Gusti Ngurah and his son fled the kingdom but eventually surrendered. The two attempted to negotiate a settlement, offering to submit to colonization, but Dutch troops refused this offer. Instead, Gusti Ngurah and his son were given the option of exile to either Madura or Lombok. Two days after their surrender, Ngurah and his son decided to commit suicide in a display of Puputan. Afterwards, the palace at Tabanan was looted and destroyed by Dutch troops.
Knowing the enemy would soon arrive in Badung, Raja Denspar ordered the burning of the kingdom sometime late in the evening of September 19th, or in the very early morning hours September 20thth. As the troops approached the palace on the morning of September 20th, all they hear were the sounds of ominous drumming coming from within the palace walls. The Badung people opened the gates of their village and the approximate population of 1,100 marched out to meet the Dutch troops; All were dressed in traditional white cremation robes, carrying their krises as well as jewels, coins and other valuables in anticipation of the Puputan. The Raja, riding in a palanquin, lead the suicidal procession.
Upon reaching Dutch troops, the ritual mass suicide began. The Raja stepped down from his palanquin and gave his priest a signal, at which point the priest plunged his kris into the heart of Raja Denspar. The entire procession then began killing themselves and one another. Dutch troops were so shocked, one soldier accidentally fired his gun, which prompted the Badung people to descend upon them in an ultimate fight to the death, brutally slaying as many Dutch soldiers with their krises as possible. Some Badungs were shot and killed by the Dutch in the battle; All the while, others continued committing suicide and killing their own people, including children and infants. Women began mockingly throwing jewels and coins at the Dutch troops. According to the troops who witnessed the event, the Badung people appeared to be half-dazed with opium during the macabre display. All Badungs, aside from a few infants that survived, died in the Puputan that day; The majority died by their own hand. The Badung mass suicide was so shocking and disturbing to the Dutch that most were completely traumatized by the event. Dr. Van Weede, a Dutch observer describes the horrors he witnessed:

“The ruler and the princes with their followers, dressed in their glittering attire, with their krises girded on, of which the golden hilts were in the form of Buddha statues and studded with precious stones: all of them were dressed in red or black and their hair was carefully combed, moistened with fragrant oils. The women were wearing the best clothes and accessories that they had; most of them wore their hair loose and all had white cloaks. The prince had his palace burned down and had everything that was breakable destroyed.
When at nice o’clock it was reported to him that the enemy had penetrated Denpasar from the North, the tragic procession of 250 people started to move; each man and woman carried a kris or long lance, also the children who had the strength to do it, while the babies were carried in their arms. Thus they walked to the north along the wide road bordered by tall trees, meeting their destruction.
The prince walked in front, carried on the shoulders by his followers according to custom, and silently…. until all of sudden, at a turning in the road, the dark line of our infantry was visible before them. Immediately a halt was commanded and Captain Schutstal ordered the interpreters to summon the arriving party to a halt with gestures and with words. However these summons were in vain, and in spite of the repeated warnings the Balinese went over to a trot.
Incessantly the Captain and the interpreters made signs, but it was in vain. Soon they had to realize that they had to do with people who wanted to die. They let them approach to a hundred paces, eighty, seventy paces, but now they went over to a double quick step with couched lances and raised krises, the prince always in front.
A longer delay would have been irresponsible in view of the safety of our men, and the first salvo was given; several killed men remained at the place. One of the first to fall was the ruler; and now one of the most horrible scenes one could imagine took place. While those who were saved continued the attack, and the shooting on our part for self-defense remained necessary, one saw lightly wounded give the death-blow to the heavily wounded. Women held out their breasts to be killed or received the death blow between their shoulders, and those who did this were mowed down by our rifle fire, other men and women got up to continue the bloody work. Also suicides took place there on a big scale, and all seemed to yearn for their death: some women threw as a reward for the violent death which they desired from them gold coins to the soldiers, and stood straight up in front of them, pointing at their heart, as if they wanted to be hit there; if no shot was fired they killed themselves. Especially an old man was busily stepping over the corpses, and used his kris left and right until he was shot down. An old woman took his task and underwent the same fate, however, nothing helped. Always others got up to continue the work of destruction.”

Later that same day, Dutch troops witnessed horrific events once more in the nearby village of Pemacutan when Gusti Gede Ngurah Pemacutan, the co-ruler of Badung, and his people staged a nearly identical Puputan as the one which had occurred in Badung.

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Horrible History: Mass Suicides NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon Kindle! 

The new book Horrible History: Mass Suicide is now available for purchase on Amazon Kindle! With your purchase of the book you will receive a link and password to access an online media guide full of photos and videos corresponding to the content of the book.

Horrible History: Mass Suicides, by the Head Writer of The Post-Mortem Post contains in-depth articles and witness accounts of The Siege of Masada, The Badung Puputan, The Saipan Suicides, The Demmin Suicides, Jonestown (INCLUDING FULL FBI “Death Tape” transcript!) and The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God.

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Oklahoma Police Brutally Beat Innocent Man to Death in Front of Wife and Daughter on Valentine’s Day 

 On the evening of February 14, 2014 the Rodriguez family drove from their home in Norman, Oklahoma to the Warren Theatre in Moore, OK for a family movie night. While leaving, Nari Rodriguez engaged in an argument with her nineteen-year-old daughter, Luinahi. According to Nair, the fight was regarding Luinahi spending time with a group of friends who the family had experienced issues with in the past and believed to be a bad influence on their daughter. The argument reached a climax in the parking lot when Nari slapped Luinahi for lying to her, allegedly. A bystander saw the altercation taking place and called police. When police arrived, Luis Hernandez, the 44-year-old father of Luinahi and husband of Nari who had not been involved in the altercation, was standing away from his wife and daughter as he had been throughout the argument. Police immediately approached Luis who had his eye on Nari; Luis saw that Nari was attempting to get in the family car and leave. Not wanting his wife to be on the road while she was so upset and presumably concerned that he and his daughter would be stranded in the town of Moore if she drove off, Luis continued to approach his wife when police asked for Luis’s identification. One police officer grabbed Luis in an attempt to stop him; When Luis broke free of his grip, four police officers and one security guard tackled Mr. Rodriguez and began savagely beating him with their fists and knees, repeatedly using pepper spray on him until he was lying limp on the ground, unable to move.

 Even after Luis’s face had been beaten so severely that he was unrecognizable to his daughter and wife of twenty-two years, police continued their brutality, pressing Luis’s skull into the pavement and placing their knees on top of his body, bearing their full weight down on him while his wife and child watched. Luinahi later recalled, “Five guys on top of him, beating him ruthlessly. On the head- just pow, pow, pow. Even with knees.”. After the brutal attack on her husband who was unarmed, not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol and had not even committed a crime, Nair began filming. Police threatened Nair Rodriguez, telling her if she did not stop recording she would be arrested and continued to harass her for identification as she pleaded with police and paramedics who had arrived to tend to Luis to tell her whether or not her husband was dead. The police would not allow Luis’s family to speak with him on the scene despite his obviously critical condition. One officer, still badgering Nair for her ID offered to hold her phone while she retrieved her driver’s license; He immediately ended the recording and confiscated Nair’s cell phone. Luis Rodriguez was eventually taken to Midwest Regional Medical Center where Nair and Luinahi were still prevented from seeing Luis and were denied information on his condition. Luis Rodriguez died from his injuries and was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office; No one informed Nair and Luinahi of this. Law enforcement and medical staff even lied to them about Luis’s whereabouts for several hours. Luis’s wife and daughter were denied the opportunity to see Luis one last time and say their goodbyes.

 For more than a week, police refused to return Nair Rodriguez’s cell phone containing the graphic video of her severely beaten and dying husband being mistreated by police. The incident was captured on security cameras at the Warren Theater which police also refused to release until rather recently. The video confirms witness testimony that the five men tackled Luis, kneeing him in the head and beating him excessively long after he had been subdued. The four officers involved in the inexcuseable beating received four months paid time off and are now back on the street where they can go on brutalizing innocent citizens. Nair and Luinahi Rodriguez have filled a civil suit against the police department of Moore, Oklahoma and the Warren Theater for negligence, excessive use of force, depravation of rights, assault & battery, fail to train, supervise & control, infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages.

  Luis Rodriguez never had a run-in with law enforcement prior to this; He was know as a hard-working electrician and God-fearing family man who was nicknamed “Pastor” by many friends and members of his church.

The following video was taken outside the Warren Theatre in Moore, Oklahoma on the evening of February 14, 2014 by Nair Rodriguez following the attack on Luis Rodriguez by police and contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

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