Debate over wall alters mural project

courtesy of Lisa Scott and Yasuyuki Nagasawa
courtesy of Lisa Scott and Yasuyuki Nagasawa

by Amber Allen
Managing Editor

Seniors Yasuyuki Nagasawa and Lisa Scott had planned on painting the 10- by 40-foot multicultural mural shown above on the new greenhouse wall as part of an independent study project. The wall, located across from Dailey Theatre, had been rebuilt this semester after drainage problems were found. A mural of a skyscape that was used as a meditative location for theater actors was torn down with it.

Brian Worley, director of facilities management, suggested to the Art Department that another mural should be put up in place of the old one.

“I thought that would be a good place for a mural to be created,” he said.

Scott approached Nagasawa with the mural idea and together they designed a piece that encompassed all the themes of diversity on campus. They wanted the mural to be visual to everyone on campus and felt the original mural wall was perfect.

When sketches of the mural piece were shown to Dr. David Flaten, professor of theatre arts, a debate over placing a multicultural mural on the same wall began.

“The images are powerful but not aggressive. It’s not just for art majors it is for everyone,” Scott said.

The project was approved by the city of La Verne and received ULV President Stephen Morgan’s support. Then questions were raised over whether the mural should be placed on the meditative wall.

Dr. Flaten declined to comment on changes to the mural project.

According to Ruth Trotter, associate professor of art, there was a breakdown of communication in regards to the position of the mural.

“The history of the wall is considered to be important and a difference of opinion is what occurred,” she said.

Scott said the mural will now be created on the east wall of the Central Services Building, which faces the Oaks Residence Hall.

Trotter was not surprised by the resulting change.

“I thought there would be debate over it. Administration is supportive of the project and the artists are being positive about the changes. They are learning about the effects of public art,” said Trotter.

A meeting was held between Dr. John Gingrich, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Trotter, Dr. Flaten and Worley to decide on a compromise for the project.

“I felt the mural in that same location should have the same ‘in kind’ theme to it. It is important for the University to maintain control of what images go up,” said Worley.

Dr. Morgan agreed that a consideration of the wall’s history was involved.

“We wanted to preserve that wall for a mural similar to the one that was there before, for theater and other people who enjoyed the old mural,” he said.

Scott, who intended to have the mural completed in time for the senior art show, was displeased that the mural could not be where all students could see it.

“I realize that the University isn’t ready yet. They don’t want images of diversity in their backyard,” she said. “I think if we had been able to get student support it would have made it.”

Dr. Morgan added, “I am very supportive of the mural being on campus. I believe it is important because it sends a message of diversity to the University.”

Scott and Nagasawa were given the option of painting the mural on the smaller wall right next to the meditation wall but declined.

“I didn’t want to miniaturize the images,” said Scott.

The revised mural will be 15- by 50-feet and will exceed the costs that was originally funded by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and Associated Student Federation (ASF) Forum.

“I think visually it [the Central Services Building] is a good place, it’s too bad it is not in [the main] campus,” said Trotter.

Scott estimates she will have to use $300 dollars of her own money. She intends to work with Nagasawa on the project throughout this summer but says she has lost the original passion she had for the project.

“I don’t have the same feeling for it. I went in with this näivete that we had complete support,” she said. “I wouldn’t change anything if I went back and did it over again.”

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