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.
Earlier version included Peace symbol. The artist is an ignoramus and the schools are okay with pushing their eco green message because its part of their platform. I know you are trying to be fair but really, the messaging is political.
These people who push diversity are dividing our country. Ask any one of them for an opinion on paying to school any brown child from anywhere south of the border and they won’t give you a straight answer. Its a mental disorder.
Ask anyone of them who is at fault in the flotilla debacle and there they will proudly take an anti Israel position.
Prescott is home to an environmental college and people who take positions against the progressive political agenda are labeled then marginalized.
Mr Blair (the councilman) was fired from his conservative radio gig and the whole lot of these nitwits is showing up at City Hall Tuesday most likely calling for him to be fired.
These people are open border types who voted for Obama.
Steve Blair is a conservative who knows the stories of Obama
and his NEA request for artists to use their positions to create political art.
I met this artist/graffiti. Steve Blair is being Palinized.
American life in the 21st century: One tempest-in-a-teapot after another...
Diversity is a Progressive form of segregation. Diversity divides rather than unite, that is it’s goal. It’s nothing more than a community agitating tool aimed at stirring up hatred and anger. Diversity is another part of the reactionary political theme of the Progressive agenda. It’s “back to the future” with Progressivism.
I bet that Prescott is one of the school districts that is in danger of losing state funds if they don’t drop their ethnic studies classes and this mural was a form of protest.
Much ado about nothing.
Ugly art. Who paid for it?
The taxpayers, of course. It was funded by a $5,000 state government grant.
And the smug, self-absorbed artist who painted the thing probably pocketed most of that, even while relying on "volunteer" assistance from the children who were probably forced to contribute to this monstrosity during art class.
If the school at which it was painted has mostly minority kids, it would be perfectly natural to portray those kids on it.
According to the census Prescott is 92% white, and almost no black population at all (0.5%).
In other words, the mural itself probably depicts the entire minority population of the school...which is probably somewhere around 3.
The lisp alone gives away his entire agenda...and makes it somewhat surprising that he didn't also include a painting of two dudes making out in the back seat of a hybrid.
Hey! They’re ‘represented’! ;o)
In typical Soviet tradition, we the people did. This obnoxious, untalented, and hackish artist probably couldn't even sell caricatures for $10 on a sidewalk in Tuscon if his work was judged by the free market. But instead he got the government to hand him $5,000 for this butt-ugly monstrosity.
Those two hippie painters must be channeling the ghosts of Freida and Diego from the looks of that mural. With just as much contoversy attached, which was probably their intention. I think the biggest figure looks more black than hispanic and due to the size, looks like he’s been held back several years... and the hispanic younger child looks angry and sullen.
All in all, I would have made them paint over it. A nice desert and cactus scene with an oasis shimmering in the distance representing the illusion of a free America under the Marxist Obama administration. See...not political at all.