BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) -- A new exhibit at the Bristol Art Museum is sparking controversy.

The exhibit features photographs of military men in women's underwear or tender embraces.

There are also bikinis, with prints made from tiny images of assault rifles.

Some of the museum's board members are threatening to resign.

"We're people with diverse opinions and diverse attitudes, and bringing them into a small room, a small board can draw conflict. But we're not going to let that stop us. We're bringing the show to the masses."

And the masses came Friday night to the opening of the exhibit, called "Dead Ringer," described as a way to think more deeply about hot button issues.

"Art's supposed to poke you in the eye a bit and make you think about things," said attendee Susan Hollister of Melrose, Massachusetts. "So if it's not doing that? That's what it's supposed to do."

Attendees say it's important for people of all ages to learn values like freedom of speech and expression.

"I think it's important to allow children to see all walks of life," said Nicole Mandel Barrington, "So they can learn tolerance and it can be more of a norm for them."

Some longtime area residents say they're not surprised by the backlash in this traditional community.

"I would expect it," said Greg Forrest of Portsmouth. "In today's world, you're going to get the point–counterpoint all the time. There are going to be those who are old school, there are going to be those who are more progressive in their thinking. You know what, it's all okay."

Bradley Wester, the artist behind the controversial military images lives in Bristol, and says museum board members shouldn't speak for the people of this town.

"I mean, this is America, right?" said Wester. "We should come here and we should have conversation. And that's what art and books do. They stimulate our minds. So, let's stop arguing about it. Come and check it out."

The exhibit is scheduled to run through July 14th.

 

 

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