No room on La Verne’s wall

How do you characterize a typical La Verne student? You cannot—at least not by ethnicity.

La Verne has been a campus distinguished by its diverse student body. When senior art students Lisa Scott and Yasuyuki Nagasawa decided to paint a mural symbolizing such a multicultural community, they were given full support for their idea, until they said where they wanted to paint it. La Verne has featured very few muralists in its 104-year history and it was an exciting prospect to finally have a mural in the center of campus.

Few outside Dailey Theatre knew that the previous mural of clouds and sky on the wall near the Theatre had begun a tradition of similar type murals (and incidentally was torn down due to drainage problems with the new greenhouse). It was a wall with a painting on it for everyone to enjoy, and that is the same purpose Scott and Nagasawa had in mind.

As seniors, this is their final opportunity to utilize their artistic creativity to leave a visible legacy among the captive audience of La Verne—quite an honor. Now because of the deliberation involved in deciding where their multicultural mural can go, their project will not be completed in time for graduation, nor will it have the same impact as was originally planned. Instead, they have been forced to compromise their ideas in deference to what administrators and faculty have deemed appropriate. It is a harsh reality, but it comes with producing public art.

The mural image is not a soothing nature piece, but is subject to the interpretation of the individual. There has never been one specific area of campus reserved for public art pieces, so it would seem reasonable for the mural to go on the wall where the former mural had been. But that idea was halted by those invested in the integrity of the wall. Now instead of the mural being completed in time for graduates to see it, it is delayed until the next phase of students can fight for expression of diversity.

The mural does not incite bad feeling or anger. It encourages contemplation and analytical thought, and celebrates the cultural and academic diversity of this campus. This is an image you think would not be a problem at a university that touts its diversity and inclusivity.

It all comes down to the wall and whether an exception could have been made to allow a mural with a powerful message to inhabit what has been termed a “meditative wall” in a central area of campus. According to Brian Worley, director of facilities management, “It is important for the University to maintain control of what images go up.” What needed to be “controlled” with this mural? If anything, it offered more food for thought and meditation than a mural of clouds.

Now the artists must move the mural to the wall behind the Central Services Building where few people besides Oaks residents will get to enjoy it. How many people would sit outside in the middle of a parking lot and meditate in front of that wall? Due to the move, they must now pay $300 of their own money to complete the mural. With all the problems these artists have, the Associated Student Federation (ASF) Forum should pitch in.

These artists should be commended for their patience and dedication to their project. Likewise, the University should be proud of its diverse student body and should be willing to have it displayed in an area for all on campus to see.

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