A painting featuring a Ku Klux Klan member was removed as a candidate for exhibition at the National Academy of Sciences last week after several employes objected to the image it portrayed.

The painting was one of 27 submitted by Jere Allen, a University of Mississippi art professor, for inclusion in one of the periodic shows at the Academy building at 2101 Constitution Ave. NW, according to Frederica Wwechsler, art curator of the Academy.

Titled "Clouds and Shadows," it shows a hooded klansman, his face bare, lurking in the shadows. Wechsler said the painting was inspired by the artist's repugnance at efforts by some klansmen to hold a raly near Oxford, Miss., last year.

"It's clearly an editorial statement," she said. "The subject is obviously not a very nice fellow."

Wechsler said the painting was propped against a wall in an office with the others while she considered which to choose for the exhibit. On Jan. 12, before selecting any of the 23 paintings ultimately hung, she received two calls protesting the possible display of the klansman picture.

One of the callers hadn't even seen the painting but had heard it portrayed a klansman. The other said, "'I hate that symbol. It scares me,'" Wechsler said. She identified the callers only as "people who work here."

"It was obvious they didn't see the painting the same way I did," she said, "but since the purpose of the exhibits is to make this a more beautiful and pleasant place to work, I had to question what service we would provide by hanging it. If we were a gallery, I might feel differently. The artist has a right to his expression."

The exhibit will continue at the Academy through March 31.