Happy Friday, and welcome to another edition of the public art news roundup.
Tragedy, art, and administration collided in an unfortunate act of censorship at Newtown High School in Connecticut that hit the media this week. After about two years on school walls, a mural memorializing the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was reportedly covered with plasterboard.
According to reports, Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. told parents in November that a mural of a dreamcatcher with small footprints dedicated “In loving memory” to the shooting victims was causing student recovery to remain “problematic at a heightened level.” Eradi told CNN that the mural was causing “significant discomfort” to some students.
Presumably at the time of its painting, the Newtown High School community considered the mural a valuable response to tragedy; former student Lindsay Fuori designed it as part of an art therapy school project, and the school gave her space on the walls to paint it. I think it’s significant that the censorship occurred years afterward, when some people may be reaching a place where they can turn forward in their grief. Maybe they just want to get through a single full day without feeling despair, which is not helped by any reminder of the shooting. Maybe freshmen starting class here, with no memory of this mural as a healing tool, experience it as a trigger. But you can’t just pack up the relics of a tragedy and move on. You can’t administrate the grieving process. As Fuori told the AP, “a lot of students feel like they’re being told to forget, and that’s not a healthy feeling, either.”
There’s more to read on this issue regarding steps leading up to the censorship and the school community’s response. Here are some of this week’s reports: AP, CNN, Daily News; here’s a petition to uncover the mural with nearly 900 signatures.
Now to the roundup:
“Public art may be hard to define, but it is always easy to detect: shrieking for attention, but pitiably inarticulate. Brash rather than brave. Assertive but dumb. Ham-fisted rather than skilful. Often expensive too.”
Curbed figured out the backstory to a Chicago mural that was uncovered during a building demolition.
Legislation has been introduced in Utah to make “Spiral Jetty” the official State artwork.
If you’re in Brooklyn tomorrow you can help paint a mural/ad for the voice of our generation, Broad City.
San Franciscans are defacing Super Bowl promotional sculptures to read “sup bro,” “superb owl,” and (my personal favorite) “up r bowel,” among others.