Skip to comments.Mural Ignites Debate on Race, Censorship in Arizona (Mural Character's Skin Too Dark?)
Posted on 06/05/2010 6:22:17 PM PDT by DogByte6RER
Mural Ignites Debate on Race, Censorship in Arizona
(June 5) -- An Arizona school mural designed to promote environmentally friendly transportation has ignited a debate about race and censorship of the arts.
Officials at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Ariz., asked the painters of the mural to lighten the skin of children depicted after a city councilman denounced its prominent portrayal of ethnic minorities. Following protests, the principal apologized today for making the request. "Miller Valley made a mistake when we asked them to lighten the mural. We made a mistake," said Principal Jeff Lane.
The mural shows children walking and cycling in a garden-like scene, with birds flying around them. "We don't have a racist town," R.E. Wall, who painted the "Go on Green" mural, told AOL News. "I believe we have racist city council."
City Councilman Steve Blair, who says he "can't stand" the word "diversity," criticized the mural on his talk-radio show. He particularly targeted the portrayal of the painting's main figure, a dark-skinned boy in blue jeans and green sweatshirt.
"To depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, 'Why?'" Blair said on a May 21 broadcast, according to The Daily Courier.
The child in question is meant to be a Mexican-American, Wall told AOL News.
When the Courier published an article online about the unveiling of the mural, readers left comments describing the painting as "tacky," "ghetto" and "ugly." On his radio show, Blair said that he had spoken to locals who are offended by the mural and call it "graffiti."
The mural aims to fight childhood obesity by encouraging children to walk or cycle to school. It was paid for by the Prescott Alternative Transportation Organization, with money from the state Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School program, The Associated Press reported.
Students examined different options for the design of the mural, before passing on their recommendations to the school's teachers, who had the final say.
"The teachers selected this design because it focused on children and their role in the environment," Lane told the AP.
Wall says that he and his fellow painters from the Prescott Downtown Mural Project, were often harassed by drivers passing by the mural. The motorists shouted racial slurs against the figures depicted, said Wall, adding that the painters were working with school children at the time.
"To us it's children, we don't care what color they are," Wall told AOL News. "But for some people, that's all they see. "
As the controversy grew, school authorities requested the artists lighten the skin tones on the forehead and cheeks of the main boy depicted, and to make the children appear happier.
The school's principal denies that he was motivated by any kind of political pressure relating to racism.
"We asked them to fix the shading on the children's faces," Lane told The Arizona Republic. "We were looking at it from an artistic view. Nothing at all to do with race."
Wall told AOL News that the artists would work to make the most prominent child look more like a Mexican-American but that they "weren't interested" in simply lightening the skin tones.
He says he's glad that the controversy has erupted, as it provides a rallying point for Latinos who have been squeezed by city measures, such as banning soccer in public parks.
"Art shouldn't just be flat pictures of puppies," Wall told AOL News. "Like Picasso said, art should be a hammer that shatters the illusion of the masses."
“Art Attack: Elementary school mural getting a ‘lighter’ facelift”: http://www.prescottaz.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubsectionID=1086&ArticleID=81753
“Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott”: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/06/04/20100604arizona-mural-sparks-racial-debate.html
Once again, the ‘Adults’ get it wrong....
Alas, "art" frequently just mirrors the illusions of the masses.
Apparently we can’t have diversity on a mural, even if it looks like Commie Chinese propaganda posters
Precious few in this story.
The second one reminds me of one of those `Find the Things That Don’t Belong’ pictures in Highlights kids’ magazine, found in dentists’ waiting rooms.
1. The raccoon isn’t wearing a mask, but maybe the artist thought this stigmatized him in some way. Or maybe AZ `coons don’t have masks.
2. Someone left out a box full of empty plastic bottles. Those should have been pitched in the trash.
3. And what are those old tires doing on the rock?
4. The animal in the background looks like Pokey, Gumby’s mount.
5. What’s with the vampire bat?! That’s going to frighten children ...
Seems to me the artist could have taken a little more time composing his work. ;^)
Ugly art. Who paid for it?
The kid in the top painting looks like a black Mao Tse-dong.
The artists are allowing a raccoon to steal and eat a perfectly edible crawdad ~ that should be reserved for the hu-manz.
I think the property owners who pay taxes to the Prescott school district footed the bill for this crappy art.
Note: The art is crappy whether the skin color of the portraits are “whitened” or not.
I disagree. The coon’s mask is too light.
I think the taxpayers need to get together and decide on a nice shade of beige to cover it up.
No backward ballcaps or buttcracks visible?
That type of art is all over Tucson. It is the same type of art that the Communists posted everywhere they could get a foothold in the early part of the Twentieth Century. It is meant to divide communities.
It is ugly, it does not represent the whole community, it does not lift the spirit in joy. It makes the children look unattractive, they do not smile with their eyes.
Are there no white children in Prescot? Prescott has traditionally been a rancher’s town in the past. Are there no pictures of children helping on the ranch? Could not the black and indian child have been depicted more attractively?
How come there are not pictures of children of different races playing with each other?
Are the artists racists?
If the school at which it was painted has mostly minority kids, it would be perfectly natural to portray those kids on it. And even if it's not a school with mostly minority kids, it is minority kids who seem to be at great risk for obesity.
I think this was a knee-jerk reaction by a thin-skinned councilman.
This is he, the one with the smug look of having been educated beyond his abilities.